The Pentagon has accused the Chinese fighter jet of acting aggressively near the US aircraft

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that a Chinese warplane had carried out “unnecessary aggressive maneuvers” near a US military aircraft flying over the South China Sea last week.

The US Indo-Pacific Command released video footage of the incident, which it said took place on Friday, as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was on a visit to the region with stops in Japan, Singapore and India.

It is the latest in a series of similar meetings and comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. China’s military has repeatedly rebuffed US attempts to arrange a meeting between Austin and his Chinese counterpart.

US military officials have accused China’s People’s Liberation Army pilots of reckless behavior in the region, including last December when a Chinese fighter jet flew within 6 meters of a US military aircraft operating in the South China Sea.

A US Defense Department spokesman said the Chinese fighter jet came within 400 feet (about 121 meters) of the plane’s nose.

After the Chinese pilot “flew directly in front of the nose” of the RC-135, the US aircraft was forced to “fly through turbulence in its wake”, the US military said.

The plane was “conducting safe and routine operations” in international airspace and would continue to do so “where international law allows,” the Pentagon added.

China, which claims much of the South China Sea and Taiwan, often accuses the US of endangering peace in the region. Washington argues that its military actions are upholding international rules-based order against threats and coercion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said on Wednesday that the US’s “provocative and dangerous” behavior was responsible for maritime tensions in the region and “gravely violated China’s sovereignty and security”.

“China will continue to take necessary measures to protect its security and sovereignty,” he added.

Last week’s incident highlighted the risks of an unplanned confrontation between Beijing and Washington at a time when diplomatic ties are fraying amid geopolitical and economic tensions.

In 2001, an American spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet 70 miles off the coast of Hainan Island and the American plane was forced to make an emergency landing. Relations between the powers deteriorated after the crash, resulting in the Chinese military interrogating and detaining the group.

Biden administration officials have sought more meetings with their Chinese counterparts to try to strengthen relations with Beijing.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wendao in Washington last week, the first senior-level Chinese visit to the US capital since 2020. Policy Officer, in Vienna.

However, China has not agreed to reschedule US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit to Beijing. He canceled a previously planned trip in February after a diplomatic fallout from the downing of a Chinese spy balloon over the United States.

Additional reporting by Mikey Ding in Beijing

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