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Chinese jets buzz U.S. reconnaissance plane

(May 30th, 2016) China’s Defense Ministry asserted on May 26 that its aircraft followed proper rules after two Chinese fighter jets carried out what the United States called an “unsafe” intercept of a U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, where China has been seeking to gain hegemony, especially by occupying and militarizing some disputes reefs and islands.

File photo of a Chinese J-11 fighter jet seen flying near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon about 215 km (135 miles) east of China's Hainan Island in this U.S. Department of Defense handout photo taken August 19, 2014. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout
File photo of a Chinese J-11 fighter jet seen flying near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon about 215 km (135 miles) east of China’s Hainan Island in this U.S. Department of Defense handout photo taken August 19, 2014. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout

The Pentagon said that incident happened in international airspace last week as the plane carried out “a routine U.S. patrol,” the Pentagon said.

A U.S. defense official said two Chinese J-11 fighter jets flew within 50 feet of the U.S. EP-3 aircraft, which was flying east of Hainan island.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun asserted that the Chinese pilots acted professionally and in line with an agreement reached between the countries on rules governing such encounters.

However, he said the agreement, called the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters, could only provide a “technical standard,” and the best way of resolving the problem was for the U.S. to stop such flights.