China's J-11 fighter jet
|Two Chinese fighter jets carried out an "unsafe" intercept of a US military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, drawing a rebuke from Beijing, which demanded that Washington end surveillance near China.|
The incident, likely to increase tension in and around the contested waterway, took place on Tuesday as the US maritime patrol aircraft carried out "a routine US patrol," a Pentagon statement said.
|The incident took place in international airspace on Tuesday with the jets coming within 50 feet of the patrol aircraft. The encounter comes a week after China scrambled fighter jets as a U.S. Navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the U.S. statement was "not true"|
"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".
|While the precise location of the encounter is not yet known, regional military attaches and experts say the southern Chinese coast is a military area of increasing sensitivity for Beijing. Its submarine bases on Hainan are home to an expanding fleet of nuclear-armed submarines and a big target for on-going Western surveillance operations.|
The Guangdong coast is also believed to be home to some of China's most advanced missiles, including the DF-21D anti-ship weapon