A Chinese fighter jet buzzed an American spy plane above the South China Sea on Friday, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said in a release Tuesday.
A J-16 fighter pilot performed an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” while intercepting the U.S. Air Force RC-135, INDOPACOM said. Video released by the Pentagon shows the Chinese jet flying directly across the path of the American aircraft at an unspecified but seemingly close distance.
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“The RC-135 was conducting safe and routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, in accordance with international law,” INDOPACOM said. “The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate – safely and responsibly – wherever international law allows, and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Joint Force will continue to fly in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law. We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law.”
The incident is not the first close call between the U.S and China in recent months. In December, a Chinese fighter jet similarly flew dangerously close to a U.S. spy plane over the South China Sea. (RELATED: Xi Is Losing Control Of Chinese Military’s Harassment Tactics, US Navy Intel Official Says)
While Washington’s relationship with Beijing has deteriorated over the course of President Joe Biden’s presidency, Biden said last week he anticipates the relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to “thaw very shortly.” However, the CCP answered that pontification by refusing an offered meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.