Did Chinese Jets Intercept US Military Plane in East China Sea?
According to the US Pacific Air Forces, on 17 May, two Chinese Su-30 fighter jets intercepted a US Air Force radiation detection plane over the East China Sea.The US crew aboard the US Air Force WC-135 characterized the move as “unprofessional,” according to the statement from Air Force Lt. Col. Hodge. “While we are still investigating the incident, initial reports from the US aircrew characterized the intercept as unprofessional. The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels,” Hodge said.
China has denied United States allegations that two Chinese fighter jets acted unprofessionally in intercepting an American military plane earlier this week, saying that its aircraft were acting “in accordance with the law”.
“Related remarks from the US side are inconsistent with fact,” the Chinese Ministry of Defence said in a statement posted on its website late last Friday. “On May 17, a US reconnaissance aircraft was carrying out an operation in airspace over the Chinese Yellow Sea, and Chinese aircraft acted to identify and investigate in accordance with the law,” the statement said, calling the action “professional” and “safe”.
The statement out of Beijing came as Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi discussed preparations for the first round of the China-US diplomatic and security dialogue in a phone conversation yesterday with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Midair interceptions occur routinely in international airspace, but the US military will often call out foreign pilots if it judges the manoeuvres to be risky or unprofessional.
Meanwhile, China urged the US to halt such reconnaissance exercises in order to prevent future incidents. “The American military’s frequent reconnaissance operations are the root cause of security issues between the Chinese and US navies and air forces,” the Chinese Defence Ministry’s statement said.