US Military: Chinese Jet Aggressive 05/31 06:08
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. military said Tuesday that a Chinese fighter jet
flew aggressively close to a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over the South China
Sea, forcing the American pilot to fly through the turbulent wake.
The Chinese J-16 fighter pilot "flew directly in front of the nose of the
RC-135," which was conducting routine operations in international airspace last
Friday, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement. It called the Chinese
move an " unnecessarily aggressive maneuver."
U.S. defense leaders have complained that China's military has become
significantly more aggressive over the past five years, intercepting U.S.
aircraft and ships in the region. And tensions with China have only grown in
recent months over Washington's military support and sales of defensive weapons
to self-governing Taiwan, China's assertions of sovereignty to the contested
South China Sea and its flying of a suspected spy balloon over the U.S.
In a further sign of the tensions, China said its defense chief will not
meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin when the two men attend a
security conference in Singapore this coming weekend. Austin is scheduled to
address the Shangri-La Dialogue on Saturday, while Chinese Defense Minister
Gen. Li Shangfu will speak at the gathering on Sunday.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said China informed the
U.S. that it was declining Austin's invitation to meet while they were at the
conference. He said Beijing's "concerning unwillingness to engage in meaningful
military-to-military discussions" will not diminish the Defense Department's
commitment to seeking open lines of communication with the Chinese army.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning on Tuesday blamed the U.S., saying
Washington should "earnestly respect China's sovereignty and security interests
and concerns, immediately correct the wrongdoing, show sincerity, and create
the necessary atmosphere and conditions for dialogue and communication between
the two militaries."
In a visit to the Indo-Pacific last summer, U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the number of intercepts by Chinese aircraft
and ships in the Pacific region with U.S. and other partner forces has
increased significantly over that time, and the number of unsafe interactions
has risen by similar proportions.
China frequently challenges military aircraft from the U.S. and its allies,
especially over the strategically vital South China Sea, which China claims in
its entirety. Such behavior led to a 2001 in-air collision in which a Chinese
plane was lost and pilot killed. Beijing deeply resents the presence of U.S.
military assets in that region, and regularly demands that American ships and
planes leave the area.
In the statement Tuesday, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said America will
continue to "fly, sail, and operate -- safely and responsibly -- wherever
international law allows," and expects all other countries to do the same.