US Accuses Chinese Jet of "Unprofessional Intercept" Over South China Sea

The US has stepped up military activity in the South China Sea, making an accident between the US and Chinese militaries more likely

US Indo-Pacific command on Tuesday claimed a Chinese fighter jet conducted an “unprofessional intercept” of a US spy plane over the South China Sea, an area where the US has increased its military presence in recent years.

The command said the incident occurred on May 26 and that a Chinese J-16 jet “flew directly in front of the nose” of a US RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, forcing the US plane to “fly through its wake turbulence.” The command released a video that purported to show the encounter.

It’s not clear how close to China’s coast or where exactly the incident took place over the South China Sea. The heavy US military presence in the region raises the risk of an accident between the two militaries, which could spiral into a full-blown conflict as US-China relations are at their lowest point in decades.

The encounter over the South China Sea comes amid a lack of communication between high-level US and Chinese military officials. Beijing has declined to hold a meeting between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, because the US refuses to lift sanctions that were imposed on Li when he served in a different role in 2018.

The US has stepped up its military activity in the South China Sea in recent years to challenge China’s claims to the waters and as part of Washington’s overall strategy against Beijing. According to the South China Sea Probing Initiative, a Beijing-based think tank, the US conducted about 1,000 surveillance flights over the South China Sea in 2022.

Source: AntiWar.

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