Chinese fighter jet had ‘unsafe’ interaction with US military aircraft in June

In February, personnel aboard a Chinese Navy ship directed a laser beam at an Australian Navy P-8 reconnaissance aircraft, Austin said. And in the weeks leading up to the Austin visit, Chinese fighter jets conducted a series of dangerous intercepts of Allied aircraft operating in the East China and South China Seas, including when a Chinese jet cut down an Australian P-8 and fired a husk from the Australian plane. Swallow the plane in its engine.

Meanwhile, the Canadian military in early June accused Chinese warplanes of harassing a CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft monitoring North Korean activity.

The June incident involved a Chinese Su-30 and an American C-130. The US special operations forces aircraft was a Lockheed Martin C-130 cargo plane, a person said.

The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic, did not provide details about the incident, including the exact date, but said the Pentagon deemed it “unsafe” and “unprofessional.”

Defense Department spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Miners declined to comment on the interaction, noting that “our aircrews frequently encounter safe and professional interceptions, and when otherwise we have procedures in place to address them.”

“The United States will continue to fly and operate in accordance with international law and expect others to do the same,” he said.

Chinese and US officials have recently clashed over Taiwan. Beijing regards Taiwan as part of the mainland and frequently objects to US support for Taipei. Although the United States does not formally establish diplomatic relations with the island, Washington has long supported Taiwan’s self-defense capacity through arms sales and a close military relationship, as enshrined in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979.

After the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi Announcing her intention to visit Taipei in April – a trip she postponed because she tested positive for Covid-19 – Beijing warned that any such visit would severely affect Sino-US relations.

“It would seriously damage the foundations of Sino-US relations, and send wrong messages to Taiwan separatists,” said Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesman at the time.

“China will respond with resolute and strong measures, and the United States alone will bear all the consequences,” Zhao added.

There is also diplomatic talk in Washington that Beijing may intensify its military campaign of intimidation against Taiwan in retaliation for the high-profile visit of Taiwanese Vice President William Lai to Japan this week for the funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In a June 10 meeting with Austin, Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fengyi pressed his US counterpart on the “Taiwan problem,” according to the Global Times.

News of the interaction in the South China Sea comes a week after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley spoke via video phone with Chinese General Li Zucheng, chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

During the phone call on July 7, Lee conveyed that Taiwan is a “core interest” of China, according to a defense official. Milley quoted the importance of managing “competition” and maintaining “open lines of communication,” according to a Defense Department reading.

This was their first call since January 8, 2021, which made headlines when it was referenced in a book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

During the call, which took place two days after pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol, and another on October 30, 2020, Millie reassured Lee that the US would not strike China and vowed to give the Chinese general an alert if, according to the book, President Donald Trump ordered an attack.

“General Li, you and I have known each other for five years. If we were to attack, I would call you early. It wouldn’t be a surprise,” Mielle reportedly said.

Willem Klein contributed to this report.

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