Last Tuesday, the US military revealed that a Chinese J-16 fighter jet flew in an “unnecessarily aggressive” manner near a US reconnaissance aircraft that was flying in international airspace over the South China Sea on May 26, the Associated Press reported.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the pilot of the Chinese jet “flew directly in front of the nose” of a US plane that was conducting routine operations in international airspace.
Cockpit video from the RC-135 reconnaissance plane shows the Chinese jet approaching the nose of the aircraft before veering off. The resulting turbulence from the jet’s wake can be seen from how the cockpit camera shakes.
The Pentagon has repeatedly complained that the Chinese military has grown much more aggressive in the last five years, often intercepting US aircraft and ships in the region.
The US Indo-Pacific Command reiterated in its statement that the United States will continue to “fly, sail, and operate” wherever it is allowed by international law.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Beijing responded to complaints about the incident by demanding that the United States cease surveillance flights over the South China Sea.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters that Beijing would continue to take action it deems necessary to safeguard China’s sovereignty. Mao demanded that the United States “immediately stop these dangerous provocations.”
US and allied military aircraft are frequently challenged by the Chinese military, especially over the South China Sea. This led to an in-air collision in 2001 when a Chinese plane was lost and the pilot was killed.
Tensions between China and the US have increased in recent months in the wake of Washington’s sales of defensive weapons to Taiwan and Beijing’s claims of sovereignty to most of the South China Sea.