US says Chinese fighter jet performed ‘unnecessarily aggressive’ manoeuvre over South China Sea

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The US has said a Chinese fighter jet performed an “unnecessarily aggressive” manoeuvre during an intercept over the South China Sea.

In a statement, the US military command responsible for the Indo-Pacific said the Chinese J-16 aircraft carried out the manoeuvre last week and forced the US RC-135 plane to fly through its wake turbulence.

Wake turbulence is the disturbance in the atmosphere caused by an aircraft as it passes through the air, similar to the wake of a boat travelling through water.

“The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate – safely and responsibly – wherever international law allows,” the statement said.

Video shows a fighter jet passing in front of the US plane’s nose and the cockpit of the RC-135 shaking in the turbulence.

A Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet. Pic: AP
A Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet. Pic: AP

The encounter followed what the United States has called a recent trend of increasingly dangerous behaviour by Beijing military aircraft.

The incident took place before China snubbed a request by Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security summit in Singapore this week.

The Chinese embassy in Washington has not yet commented.

In the past, China has said the United States sending ships and aircraft into the South China Sea is not good for peace.

In December, a Chinese military plane came within metres of a US Air Force aircraft and forced it to take evasive action to avoid a collision in international airspace.

Relations between China and the US have been tense, with friction between the world’s two largest economies over everything from Taiwan and China’s human rights record to its military activity in the South China Sea.

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