Pentagon cites ‘dangerous’ Chinese jet intercept
WASHINGTON: The Obama administration accused a Chinese fighter jet of conducting a “dangerous intercept” of a US Navy surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of China in international airspace — the fourth such incident since March.
The Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Washington protested to the Chinese military through diplomatic channels, calling the fighter pilot’s actions “unsafe and unprofessional.” And US officials said this is at least the second formal complaint American diplomats have filed with the Chinese over these military actions in recent months.
At a news briefing at Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama is vacationing, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, called the intercept “a deeply concerning provocation” and suggested it could set back efforts to improve relations.
“What we’ve encouraged is constructive military-to-military ties with China, and this kind of action clearly violates the spirit of that engagement,” Rhodes told reporters.
US officials said it appears that the same Chinese military unit out of a base on Hainan Island was responsible for similar aggressive “close intercepts” in March, April and May. The officials refused to provide any details of the previous incidents but said the US filed a similar formal complaint with the Chinese in May.