Chinese jets “unsafely” intercept U.S. military plane over South China Sea

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• The Pentagon claimed Chinese jets carried out unsafe intercept of a U.S. military plane
• The American pilot was forced to descend about 200 feet to avoid collision, a U.S. military official claimed
• China denied the allegations of the United States

Two Chinese J-11 tactical aircraft or fighter jets carried out an unsafe intercept of a United States reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea on Tuesday, May 17, according to a United States Defense official.

The U.S. Defense official said the Chinese jets, at one point, came within 50 feet of the American spy plane.

NBC News’ Courtney Kube wrote in her article dated May 19, 2016 that according to Defense Department spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza, the U.S. aircraft, a Navy E-P3 surveillance plane, was flying in a routine patrol in international airspace on May 17 when two tactical aircraft from the People’s Republic of China intercepted it.

The American pilot was forced to descend about 200 feet to avoid collision, according to the U.S. official.

The Chinese government, however, denied the allegations of the United States

Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said “the American plane flew very close to Hainan Island. Two Chinese aircraft followed and monitored at a safe distance. There were no dangerous maneuvers from the Chinese aircraft. Their actions were completely professional and safe.”

The spokesman pointed out that U.S. military planes frequently carry out reconnaissance in Chinese coastal waters, seriously endangering Chinese maritime safety.

“We demand that the United States immediately cease this type of close reconnaissance activity to avoid having this sort of incident happening again,” Hong said, adding that the actions of the Chinese aircraft were “completely in keeping with safety and professional standards”.

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