Pentagon complains of 'unsafe maneuver' by Chinese jet shadowing US spy plane

A Chinese J-11 fighter jet © U.S. Navy
The US DoD is considering lodging a formal protest after a Chinese fighter jet got too close to an American RC-135 reconnaissance plane over the Yellow Sea. This is not the first time Washington has accused other nations of unsafe maneuvers in international airspace.

The latest episode occurred on September 15, some 130 kilometers east of China’s Shandong Peninsula. The Chinese jet passed close in front of the American Boeing RC-135 plane. The Pentagon is now considering whether it should bring up the issue with Beijing, Department of Defense (DoD) spokesman, Captain Jeff Davis said on Wednesday.

The Chinese Defense Ministry said it was verifying the incident and that it maintained a strong commitment to maritime and air safety.

It is the latest in a long series of complaints by the US concerning the behavior of other nations in international waters or airspace close to American vessels or aircraft.

In August 2014, a Chinese fighter jet was blamed for flying dangerously when it performed a barrel roll close to a US Navy P-8 Poseidon and flew as close as 10 meters from the American multipurpose plane. This took place in international airspace, about 22 km east of China’s Hainan Island.

Spats between the US and China have occurred on the high seas as well. In 2009, five Chinese vessels were accused by Pentagon of harassing an unarmed US Navy research ship in the South China Sea.

In 2013, the American guided missile cruiser, the USS Cowpens, was reported to have undertaken a dangerous maneuver in order to avoid a collision with a PLA Navy vessel in the South China Sea.

China is not the only nation, which Washington has accused of carrying out ungentlemanly behavior in international airspace close to national borders. The US complained about Russia’s interception of an RC-135 plane over the Baltic Sea in April, saying it was done in an "unsafe and unprofessional manner.”

US officials said similar incidents happened over the Sea of Okhotsk and in the western Pacific, but this was "one of the most dangerous close passes in decades."