On Tuesday, the Pentagon revealed that a Chinese fighter jet flew an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” close to a US reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea last Friday, the Associated Press reported.
According to a statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command, the pilot of the Chinese J-16 “flew directly in front of the nose” of a US plane that was in international airspace conducting routine operations.
The Pentagon released the cockpit video from the RC-135 reconnaissance plane showing the Chinese jet approaching just in front before veering off. The turbulence from the jet’s wake is evident from the shaking of the video footage.
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.
China has frequently challenged US and allied military aircraft, particularly 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.
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.
Tensions between the United States and China have grown in recent months due to Washington’s sales of defensive weapons to Taiwan, Beijing’s claims of sovereignty to most of the South China Sea, as well as the Chinese spy balloon that crossed over the continental US in early February.
Reuters reported this week that China turned down an invitation from the Pentagon for a bilateral meeting between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu when the two are in Singapore for the annual Shangri-la Dialogue, an informal meeting of defense officials that begins on Friday.
China’s foreign ministry blamed the United States for its decision to decline the meeting, claiming that Washington is “well aware” of the reasons for the lack of communication between US and Chinese defense officials.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said the United States must “show sincerity” and “immediately correct its wrong practices” if it hopes to “create the necessary atmosphere and conditions” for the two militaries to communicate.