On Tuesday, two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a United States military reconnaissance aircraft patrolling over the South China Sea.
Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza told NBC News, a maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft, the Navy EP-3 Orion, while it was on “routine patrol” in international airspace on May 17.
The two Chinese JT-11 fighter jets came within 50 feet of the Navy EP-3 and Baldanza said the “initial reports characterized the incident as unsafe.”
“It needs to be pointed out that American aircraft have constantly entered China’s coastal waters conducting reconnaissance, which has posed a serious threat to China’s maritime and air safety,” Hong Lei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said at a press briefing Thursday.”We hereby ask the U.S. immediately to stop these actions so as to avoid the recurrence of such incidents.”
U.S. Pacific Command is currently conducting an investigation.
China has recently stepped up their military presence in the South China Sea as a result of increasing tensions between multiple countries that wish to claim territorial rights to the region.
China is claiming that the United States is militarizing the region, hindering China’s advances.
The United States is currently making efforts to ease the tensions through appropriate diplomatic and military solutions. “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,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said, according to CNN.