Chi­nese pi­lot acted ‘legally’ in en­counter with US mil­i­tary plane

Global Times - Weekend - - NATION - Global Times – Reuters

China’s de­fense min­istry said Fri­day that a Chi­nese pi­lot had re­sponded “legally and pro­fes­sion­ally” to a close en­counter be­tween mil­i­tary planes from China and the US over the South China Sea.

A de­fense min­istry of­fi­cial, who re­quested anonymity, told the Global Times that a US plane ap­proached a Chi­nese mil­i­tary jet that was car­ry­ing a rou­tine mis­sion near the Huangyan Is­land and the Chi­nese pi­lot re­sponded with le­gal and pro­fes­sional mea­sures.

“We hope that the US could take the bi­lat­eral mil­i­tary re­la­tions into con­sid­er­a­tion and adopt prac­ti­cal mea­sures to elim­i­nate the root cause of air and sea mishaps be­tween the two coun­tries,” said the of­fi­cial.

A US Navy P-3 plane and a Chi­nese mil­i­tary air­craft came close to each other over the South China Sea in an in­ci­dent the US Navy be­lieves was in­ad­ver­tent, a US of­fi­cial told Reuters on Thurs­day.

The US of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said the air­craft came within 1,000 feet (305 me­ters) of each other on Wed­nes­day in the vicin­ity of the Huangyan Is­land. The of­fi­cial added that such in­ci­dents in­volv­ing Chi­nese and Amer­i­can air­craft are in­fre­quent, with only two hav­ing taken place in 2016.

The US air­craft was “on a rou­tine mis­sion op­er­at­ing in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional law,” US Pa­cific Com­mand said in a state­ment to Reuters.

“On February 8, an in­ter­ac­tion char­ac­ter­ized by US Pa­cific Com­mand as ‘un­safe’ oc­curred in in­ter­na­tional air space above the South China Sea, be­tween a Chi­nese KJ-200 air­craft and a US Navy P-3C air­craft,” the state­ment said.

The KJ-200 is a pro­peller air­borne early warn­ing and con­trol air­craft based orig­i­nally on the old Soviet-de­signed An-12.

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