The Chinese Defence Ministry has refuted US allegations that a fighter jet flew dangerously close to a US military aircraft over international waters off China.
The US Department of Defense has accused an armed Chinese fighter jet of conducting a ‘dangerous intercept’ of a US P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft east of China’s Hainan Island on 19 August.
Pentagon press secretary rear admiral John Kirby said that the Chinese jet made several passes under the US aircraft, with one pass having only between 50ft to100ft of separation.
"The Chinese jet also passed the nose of the P-8 at 90° with its belly towards the P-8 Poseidon, we believe to make a point of showing its weapons load-out.
"And then they flew directly under and alongside the P-8, bringing their wingtips, as I said, to within 20ft. And then conducted a roll over the P-8, passing within 45ft."
However, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun dismissed the accusations as ‘groundless’, and noted that a Chinese J-11 fighter carried out routine identification and verification over the US P-3 and P-8 aircraft as they conducted close-in reconnaissance against China.
"During the activity of identification and verification, the relevant operations made by the Chinese pilot were professional and the Chinese jet kept a safe distance from the US planes.
"The US’s large-scale and highly frequent close-in reconnaissance against China is the root cause of accidents endangering the sea and air military security between China and the United States."
Yujun urged the US to stop reconnaissance over China, to help create an environment for the development of bilateral military relations.
The Pentagon has reported four close mid-air intercepts of its aircraft by Chinese fighter jets since March 2014.
Image: The US has alleged that its P-8 spy plane was dangerously intercepted by a Chinese fighter jet in international waters. Photo: courtesy of Greg L Davis.