The U.S. Air Force has released a video of a Chinese fighter jet that it says came dangerously close to a U.S. reconnaissance plane flying over the South China Sea on Dec. 21.
The Air Force’s large Boeing RC-135 plane took evasive action at one point to “avoid a collision” with the Shenyang J-11 fighter jet of the People’s Liberation Army Navy after the planes came within 20 feet of each other, according to a statement the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command released on Thursday.
The American plane was “lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace,” according to the U.S. statement.
China often challenges U.S. military aircraft in the sky, particularly over the strategically vital South China Sea, which China claims, The Associated Press reported. One such challenge triggered a fatal collision in 2001, according to the AP.
“China will continue to take necessary measures to firmly defend its sovereignty and security and work with regional countries to firmly defend the peace and stability of the South China Sea,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing Friday.
The U.S. statement vowed that the U.S. Indo-Pacific Joint Force “will continue to fly, sail and operate at sea and in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law” and expects other nations in the region to do the same.
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