Chinese jets intercept US plane in South China Sea
With the tensions related to the South China Sea, between China and its smaller neighbours, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia showing no signs of abating, the operations conducted by Western powers such as the US, and China's reaction to them just keep adding to them.
The South China Sea is an issue related to the territorial sovereignty of the countries involved as all of them claim at least some area of it to be under their jurisdiction. With smaller countries often accusing China of overstepping in this matter as China has often openly declared that the area comes under its control.
The South China Sea is not only important for resources available in the area but also as a strategic gateway.
Adding to all this, two Chinese aircraft have now been accused by the Pentagon, of conducting an unprofessional intercept of a surveillance aircraft belonging to the US Navy over the South China Sea. This is the second such incident in a week's time where the US has blamed the Chinese of unsafe operations in the area.
According to reports, an American P-3 surveillance plane, which was flying in international airspace and was around 150 miles away from Hong Kong, was subjected to an unsafe intercept by Chinese aircraft.
As per news agencies, a defense official on the condition of anonymity, said that two Chines J-10 fighter jets which conducted the intercept, and one of them flew, around 200 yards in front, and 100 feet above the US aircraft, while doing slow turns, and the other jet remained about 750 yards off its right wing.
The US has claimed that its aircraft was operating in international airspace. As per reports, US Navy Cdr. Gary Ross said that the country is reviewing the incident and will convey its concerns to the Chinese.
Recently a US Navy warship had sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island which has been built up by China in the South China Sea, said US officials, according to reports. And actions such as these have made China deeply suspicious of any US military activity around its coastline
In an earlier incident, US defence officials were reported to have claimed that Chinese jets had conducted an intercept of an American radiation-sniffing surveillance plane even though it was in the East China Sea.
According to reports, following this the Pacific Air Forces spokeswoman Lt Col Lori Hodge had explained that the Chinese aircraft approached the US aircraft conducting a routine mission in international airspace in accordance with international law.
The crew of the aircraft had described the actions of the Chinese pilots as unprofessional "due to the manoeuvres by the Chinese pilot, as well as the speeds and proximity of both aircraft," Hodge had reportedly said. China had denied accusations about last week's intercept, as it claimed that its aircraft conducted a safe and professional operation.
Chinese Defense Ministry had earlier reportedly said the American plane was conducting surveillance over the Yellow Sea and that the Chinese jets had performed actions "in accordance with laws and regulations."