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Increase in aggressive manoeuvres by Chinese jets ahead of Shangri-la meet

NewsIncrease in aggressive manoeuvres by Chinese jets ahead of Shangri-la meet

Beijing continues to disregard the verdict made at The Hague that China has no historical claim to the South China Sea.

US Defence Officials have warned of an “alarming increase” in aggressive intercepts from Chinese military aircraft and vessels, following a close encounter between a Chinese fighter jet and a US military plane in international airspace over the South China Sea last week.
These “risky” intercepts have the “potential to create an unsafe incident or miscalculation,” according to two US Defence officials who discussed the incident under the condition of anonymity. The US has revealed a video of a Chinese fighter pilot’s “unnecessarily aggressive manoeuvre” on 26 May during an intercept of a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft on Tuesday.
The Chinese pilot “flew directly in front of and within 400 feet (122 metres) of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the US aircraft to fly through its wake turbulence,” said a representative for the Indo-Pacific Command, which coordinates US military operations in the area.
The spokesperson claimed the US craft was “conducting safe and routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace, in accordance with international law” when the intercept took place. In a statement, Indo-PACOM (Pacific Command) urged all nations to use international airspace safely and in line with international law, adding that the US “will continue to fly, sail, and operate, safely and responsibly, wherever international law allows.”
Meanwhile, Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, accused the US of inciting the incident on Wednesday. She said that the aircraft was performing “close-in reconnaissance on China” and that this was “seriously threatening” China’s sovereignty and security. “The US needs to immediately stop such dangerous acts of provocation,” Mao said.
Beijing has disregarded the verdict made by an international court in The Hague that China has no historical claim to the South China Sea. The US often conducts operations in and above the South China Sea to oppose territorial claims made by China and others and to support open access to international seas, which are used by more than half of the world’s merchant fleet and carry trillions of dollars’ worth of cargo each year. While Beijing has claimed every feature in the South China Sea, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim certain islands in the sea as part of their territory. The increased tensions between the US and China come after the Pentagon said Beijing declined a request by the US for a meeting between their defence chiefs at an annual security forum in Singapore this weekend. Both defence leaders are slated to attend the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke on Saturday while his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister General Li Shangfu, is scheduled to speak on Sunday. The annual dialogue is an informal gathering of defence officials and analysts in Singapore that allows for side meetings among defence leaders. Li has been under US sanctions since 2018 for the purchase of combat aircraft and equipment from Russia’s primary arms exporter. The PRC has, since 2021, declined or failed to respond to more than a dozen requests from the Department of Defense for key leader engagements, along with multiple requests for standing dialogues and nearly ten working-level engagements.
“Frankly, it’s just the latest in a litany of excuses,” the senior defence official said. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Tuesday also confirmed that the two defence leaders would not meet this week, saying that the US should “earnestly respect China’s sovereignty and security interests and concerns…and create the necessary atmosphere and conditions for dialogue and communication between the two militaries.”

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