An aircraft from China flew within 10 feet of an American airforce plane in the South China Sea. The incident caused the U.S. to perform evasive maneuvers in order to avoid a collision with international airspace.
This close encounter was a result of what the United States called an increasing trend in dangerous behavior by Chinese military planes.
According to the U.S. military, the incident involved a Chinese Navy J-11 fighter plane and a U.S. Air Force RC-135 airforce aircraft. It occurred on December 21.
It stated that all the countries of the Indo-Pacific will use international airspace in safety and compliance with international law.
According to a U.S. military spokesperson, the Chinese plane was within 10 feet of its wing and 20 feet from the nose. This caused it to perform evasive maneuvers.
A separate U.S. official stated that the United States raised this issue with China’s government.
A request for comment was not received by the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.
China said in the past that sending aircraft and ships into the South China Sea was not good for peace.
U.S. naval planes and vessels regularly carry out surveillance missions and travel throughout the region.
China holds vast areas of the South China Sea, which overlap with exclusive economic zones in Vietnam, Brunei, and Indonesia.
Trade flows through this waterway every year in the trillions, and it also includes rich fisheries and gas fields.
U.S. Defense secretary Lloyd Austin discussed the importance of crisis communication and noted that Chinese military aircraft were engaging in dangerous behaviors.
The U.S. has long maintained open communication with its Chinese counterparts despite tensions. This is to reduce the possibility of any flare-ups and to deal with any accidentality.
The defense ministry of Australia stated in June that an aircraft from China had dangerously intercepted an Australian surveillance plane over the South China Sea in May.
Australia claimed that the Chinese aircraft flew in close to the RAAF aircraft. It released a “bundle” of chaff containing tiny pieces of aluminum which were ingested by the Australian engine.
Canada’s military in June accused Chinese warplanes of harassing it as it monitored North Korea sanctions evasions. Sometimes, Canadian aircraft were forced to deviate from their flight paths.
The relations between China and America have been fraught. There has been friction between two of the largest economies in the world over Taiwan, China’s human rights records and its military activities in the South China Sea.
China was furious at Nancy Pelosi, the US House Speaker’s August trip to Taiwan. China saw this as an attempt by the U.S. to interfere in its internal affairs. China then launched military exercises near the island.
Although the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it is required by law to give the island the necessary resources to protect itself.