The US Indo-Pacific Command stated in a statement that the US aircraft was legally conducting routine operations and had to maneuver to avoid a collision.
The US military said a Chinese navy plane flew dangerously close to an Air Force reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea, forcing the US pilot to maneuver to avoid a collision.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement Thursday that the incident occurred on Dec. 21 when a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy J-11 plane flew just 6 meters (20 feet) in front of an RC -135, a reconnaissance aircraft operated by the United States Air Force.
The US aircraft was “lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace,” the report said. Its pilot “had to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision,” he added.
China frequently challenges US and allied military aircraft, especially over the South China Sea, which China claims as its entirety. Such conduct led to a 2001 mid-air collision in which a Chinese plane crashed and its pilot was killed.
“The Joint Force in the Indo-Pacific is dedicated to keeping the Indo-Pacific region free and open, and will continue to fly, navigate and operate in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all ships and aircraft under its control. international law,” the statement reads.
“We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace responsibly under international law,” he adds.
China resents the US military presence in the South China Sea and often demands that it withdraw its ships and aircraft from the area. The United States insists that it has the full right to act in and on the South China Sea and ignores Chinese demands.
The incidents have continued despite agreements between the United States and China on how to deal with close encounters.
The United States and other countries have also accused China of harassing ships and aircraft in the East China Sea off the Chinese coast and even as far away as the Horn of Africa, where China operates a naval base.
In the middle of this year, the Philippine Navy accused the Chinese coast guard of “forcibly” seizing a floating object that its troops had just recovered in disputed waters.
A senior Philippine navy official made the accusation on the eve of a visit by US Vice President Kamala Harris to a nearby Philippine island aimed at boosting ties amid China’s growing regional influence.
Days later, Washington announced that it would defend its ally the Philippines if its forces were attacked in the maritime zone.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged China to respect international law and stop engaging in “provocative behavior” on the busy thoroughfare.
Blinken made the remarks on Monday, marking the sixth anniversary of an international court’s ruling that invalidated the Beijing regime’s ambitious claims to the South China Sea, a waterway carrying some $3 trillion of trade. sea every year.
“We reaffirm that an armed attack against the Philippine armed forces…would invoke the mutual defense commitments of the United States,” Blinken said in a statement, referring to the provisions of a mutual defense treaty between the two countries dating back to 1951.
“We make a new call on the PRC to comply with its obligations under international law and cease its provocative behavior,” he added.
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