Pentagon lashes out at China for ‘unsafe’ intercept over South China Sea

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS{BNN / WASHINGTON, U.S.} – Pentagon has lashed out at China claiming that two Chinese J-11 tactical aircraft carried out an “unsafe” intercept of a United States EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft over South China Sea.

In an official statement, Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said that the U.S. maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft was flying in a “routine patrol” in international airspace on May 17 when “two tactical aircraft from the People’s Republic of China” intercepted the U.S. plane.

A U.S defence official further stated that Chinese jets came within 50 feet of the U.S. aircraft at one point.

Baldanza added in the statement, “Initial reports characterised the incident as unsafe. Over the past year, DoD has seen improvements in PRC actions, flying in a safe and professional manner.”

Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman said in a CNN report, “We have made progress reducing risk between our operational forces and those of the People’s Republic of China by improved dialogue at multiple levels under the bilateral Confidence Building Measures and the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement.”

Even as U.S. Pacific Command begins probing the incident, China’s Defense Ministry claimed to be “aware of such reports” in its statement. The ministry is said to have added, “We will learn more and assess related facts.”

Six Pacific nations including Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have territorial claims in the South China Sea that is believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas and also witness over $5 trillion in global ship-borne trade passing by each year. READ MORE

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About Cholo Brooks 17181 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.