China de­nies jets made risky moves

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

BEI­JING — China de­nied Tues­day that its fighter pi­lots op­er­ated dan­ger­ously dur­ing an en­counter with a U.S. sur­veil­lance plane in in­ter­na­tional airspace in which the Amer­i­can pi­lot took eva­sive ac­tion to avoid a pos­si­ble col­li­sion.

Spokesman Ren Guo­qiang said in a state­ment on the De­fense Min­istry’s mi­croblog that the per­for­mance of the pi­lots of the two J-10 fight­ers was “le­gal, nec­es­sary and pro­fes­sional.”

Ren crit­i­cized fre­quent close-in sur­veil­lance runs by U.S. planes as rais­ing the chance of ac­ci­dents, say­ing such mis­sions “threat­ened China’s na­tional se­cu­rity, harmed China-U.S. sea-air mil­i­tary safety, en­dan­gered the safety of pi­lots from the two sides and were the root cause of China-U.S. sea-air un­ex­pected in­ci­dents.”

U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the Chi­nese fight­ers in­ter­cepted the EP-3 sur­veil­lance plane Sun­day in in­ter­na­tional airspace be­tween the East China Sea and the Yel­low Sea, in an area he de­scribed as west of the Korean Penin­sula.

Davis said one of the Chi­nese planes ap­proached at a high rate of speed from be­neath the Amer­i­can plane, then slowed and pulled up, prompt­ing the EP-3 pi­lot to take eva­sive ac­tion.

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