U.S. Air Force captures Chinese plane’s ‘aggressive maneuver’ on video

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U.S. military officials on Tuesday released video of what it said was a Chinese fighter jet conducting an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” near an American surveillance aircraft during an intercept over the South China Sea last week, in the latest dust-up between military forces in the region.

The 30-second video was captured by U.S. military personnel in an Air Force RC-135. It shows the Chinese jet, a twin-engine J-16 Shenyang, crossing what appears to be several dozen feet in front of the American aircraft’s cockpit and the crew inside being bounced around as they fly through the Shenyang’s wake.

U.S. officials said the incident happened Friday. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The RC-135, which is used to gather radio communications and other signals intelligence, was flying in international airspace, said officials with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The United States, the statement said, will continue to fly, sail and operate safely “wherever international law allows.”

“We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region,” the U.S. statement said, “to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law.”

The intercept, at least the second such incident since late last year, occurred as relations between China and the United States remain fraught.

Both countries are vying for additional partners in the region amid tensions over Taiwan, and China’s other regional ambitions have raised alarm in Washington and among U.S. allies in the Pacific.

Just days before this most recent midair encounter, the United States and Papua New Guinea signed a new defense cooperation agreement that will bring the two nations closer and allow their militaries to train together.

A separate agreement was signed last year between China and the Solomon Islands, raising concerns that China may seek to build a military base there.

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