Chinese jet came within 10 feet of US military aircraft, US says

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Chinese military plane came within 10 feet of a U.S. Air Force plane in the disputed South China Sea last week, forcing it into evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in space. international air force, the US military said Thursday.

The close encounter followed what the United States has called a recent trend of increasingly dangerous behavior by Chinese military aircraft.

The incident, which involved a Chinese Navy J-11 fighter jet and a US Air Force RC-135 jet, took place on December 21, the US military said in a statement.

“We hope that all countries in the Indo-Pacific region will use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law,” he added.

A US military spokesman said the Chinese plane came within 10 feet of the plane’s wing but 20 feet from its nose, prompting the US plane to take evasive maneuvers.

The United States has raised the issue with the Chinese government, another US official said.

The Chinese embassy in Washington DC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the past, China has said that sending US ships and planes to the South China Sea is not good for peace.

US military planes and ships routinely conduct surveillance operations and travel through the region.

China claims vast stretches of the South China Sea that overlap with the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Trillions of dollars in trade flow each year through the waterway, which also contains rich fishing grounds and gas fields.

In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in November, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin raised the need for better crisis communications and also pointed out what he called dangerous behavior by Chinese military aircraft.

Despite the tensions between the United States and China, US military officials have long tried to keep the lines of communication open with their Chinese counterparts to mitigate the risk of possible explosions or to deal with any accidents.

Australia’s defense department said in June that a Chinese warplane dangerously intercepted an Australian military surveillance plane in the South China Sea region in May.

Australia said the Chinese plane flew close to the RAAF plane and dropped a “straw bundle” containing small pieces of aluminum that were ingested by the Australian plane’s engine.

In June, Canada’s military accused Chinese fighter jets of harassing its patrol planes while monitoring North Korean sanctions evasions, sometimes forcing Canadian planes to divert from their flight paths.

Relations between China and the United States have been tense, with friction between the world’s two largest economies over everything from Taiwan’s and China’s human rights records to their military activity in the South China Sea.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August angered China, which saw it as an attempt by the United States to interfere in its internal affairs. Subsequently, China launched military exercises near the island.

The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is required by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

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