US spy plane makes dangerous maneuvers against monitoring PLA airplane during close-in recon on China
Published: Dec 31, 2022 10:56 PM

It was a US RC-135 spy plane that engaged in dangerous maneuvers against a Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy J-11 fighter jet which was monitoring the US aircraft during the latter's close-in reconnaissance over the South China Sea, and the US intentionally misled the public, the PLA Southern Theater Command said on Saturday, releasing a video documenting the incident.

The US statement disregarded the truth and is pure slander and hype, said Senior Colonel Tian Junli, a spokesperson of the PLA Southern Theater Command, in a statement on Saturday.

Tian's statement is a response to a recent US military statement claiming a PLA Navy J-11 fighter jet came within six meters of a US Air Force RC-135 aircraft over the South China Sea on December 21, forcing the US aircraft to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in international airspace, Reuters reported on Friday.

A US RC-135 aircraft conducted intentional close-in reconnaissance on China's southern coastline and the Xisha Islands of Hainan, South China's Hainan Province on December 21. The PLA Southern Theater Command organized aerial forces to conduct tracking and monitoring through its entire course, Tian said.

Despite multiple warnings from the Chinese side, the US aircraft suddenly altered its flight stance, pushed the Chinese aircraft toward left in a dangerous approach movement, which seriously compromised the flight safety of the Chinese military aircraft, severely violated the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters between China and the US as well as related international law and practices, the spokesperson said.

A video documenting the incident from the perspective of the Chinese J-11 fighter jet was attached to Tian's statement, which showed the US RC-135 intentionally altered its flight stance in a dangerous approach toward the Chinese aircraft at 11:25 am on December 21.

From the video released by the Chinese side, it is obvious that the US aircraft actively maneuvered left toward the Chinese aircraft, verifying that it was the US side that engaged in dangerous moves, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Saturday.

On the other hand, the video release by the US only showed the Chinese aircraft flying alongside the US aircraft without making any dangerous maneuvers, the expert said.

The Chinese pilot took professional and standard action according to laws and regulations, fully reflecting the Chinese military's responsible attitude toward regional safety and the safety of frontline personnel, Tian said. 

"The US side intentionally misled the public, called black white, blamed on China while itself is to be blamed and attempted to confuse international opinion," he said.

"We sternly require the US to restrain the movements of its frontline maritime and aerial forces, strictly abide by related international laws and related agreements and prevent maritime and aerial accidents," Tian said.

The Chinese military is on high alert at all times, as it will resolutely carry out its duties and missions, safeguarding national sovereignty and security, the spokesperson said.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson from the China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular press conference on Friday in response to the incident that, for a long time, the US has frequently deployed aircraft and vessels for close-in reconnaissance on China, which poses a serious danger to China's national security.

The US' provocative and dangerous moves are the root cause of maritime security issues, Wang said.

"China urges the US to stop such dangerous provocations, and stop deflecting blame on China. China will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely defend its sovereignty and security, and work with regional countries to firmly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea," Wang said.