A Chinese fighter jet got here inside 10 toes of a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber over the South China Sea this week in a nighttime maneuver that almost brought on a collision, the United States army mentioned on Thursday.
The pilot of the J-11 jet that drew near the B-52 in worldwide airspace on Tuesday evening “flew in an unsafe and unprofessional manner” and with “uncontrolled excessive speed,” the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
The U.S. army additionally launched a grainy, black-and-white video that it mentioned confirmed the encounter. The midair clip, apparently filmed from the bomber, seems to point out the jet drawing perilously shut. The New York Times has not independently verified the video.
The assertion and video have been launched on the identical day that China’s overseas minister, Wang Yi, arrived within the United States for conferences with U.S. officers — together with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s nationwide safety adviser — and at a time of rigidity between the 2 international locations over nationwide safety, financial competitors and different points.
China had no speedy touch upon the Pentagon’s assertion. Chinese officers have beforehand depicted such air intercepts as affordable responses to overseas army patrols that threaten the nation’s safety. In June, China’s protection minister on the time, Gen. Li Shangfu, downplayed an earlier episode through which an American naval destroyer slowed to keep away from a doable collision with a Chinese Navy ship that had crossed its path because it moved by the strait between China and Taiwan, the self-governed island that Beijing claims as its personal.
Speaking at a convention in Singapore, General Li mentioned in June that the easiest way to keep away from an accident was for international locations outdoors the area, just like the United States, to depart and “mind your own business.”
But the Indo-Pacific Command’s assertion on Thursday mentioned that the newest close to miss was half of a “dangerous pattern of coercive and risky operational behavior” by Chinese army jets in opposition to U.S. plane in worldwide airspace over each the South China Sea and the East China Sea, which separates China from Japan.
“The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate — safely and responsibly — wherever international laws allow,” it mentioned.
The Pentagon instructed Congress in a report this month that it had recorded greater than 180 intercepts of U.S. plane by Chinese army forces within the Asia-Pacific area for the reason that autumn of 2021 — greater than within the earlier decade. Some of these intercepts have been within the South China Sea.
China claims 90 p.c of the South China Sea, together with waters 1000’s of miles from the Chinese mainland. It has alarmed a lot of Asia and the United States over the previous decade by asserting ever-greater management over sea, partially by building and fortifying outposts and airstrips on disputed island chains.
Claire Fu contributed analysis.