China’s military rejected U.S. claims on China’s “unsafe” intercept of an American Navy reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea, and demanded the U.S. ends such action.
Yang Yujun, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, told a press conference that China’s aircraft acted professionally and in line with a China-U.S. encounter safety code agreed by both sides last year.
America’s frequent reconnaissance over Chinese waters is a real source of danger for China-U.S. military safety. The agreement only provides a technical regulation, and the best solution was for the U.S. to stop such action, Yang said.
Soon after Yang made the statement, Pentagon said the intercept of a U.S. military aircraft violated the agreement.
“The review of the Chinese intercept of one of our reconnaissance aircraft has assessed the intercept to have been unsafe based upon the Memorandum of Understanding with China and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards,” U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban said Thursday.
Two Chinese J-11 fighter jets flew within 50 feet (15 meters) of the U.S. EP-3 aircraft, a U.S. defense official said at the time. The incident took place east of Hainan Island. It came at a time of heightened Sino-American tensions in the South China Sea.
China claims most of the area through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims on the South China Sea islands.
China upset with G7 statement
China’s Foreign Ministry said it is extremely dissatisfied with a statement by Group of Seven (G7) leaders on the contentious South China Sea.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: “This G7 summit … is hyping up the South China Sea issue and exaggeration of tensions is not beneficial to stability in the South China Sea …. China is extremely dissatisfied with what Japan and the G7 have done.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that while Japan welcomes China’s peaceful rise, it opposes acts by Beijing that try to change the status quo by force.
Beijing warms up to Jakarta
China wants deeper military ties with Indonesia and will strengthen cooperation on bilateral and multilateral issues, China’s Defence Minister Chang Wanquan told his Indonesian counterpart after a recent diplomatic spat in the South China Sea.
In March, Indonesia attempted to detain a Chinese trawler it accused of fishing in its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea prompting the Chinese coastguard to intervene.
China said its vessels were operating in “traditional fishing grounds.”
Meeting on the sidelines of a regional defense ministers’ meeting in Laos’ capital Vientiane, Chang said he hoped China and Indonesia would “deepen pragmatic exchanges and cooperation” and promote military ties, Xinhua reported.
Resorts planned on Spratlys
China aims to turn some of the islands in the disputed South China Sea into Maldives-style resorts catering for weddings with new developments on areas that don’t need a military presence, a state-run newspaper quoted a top official as saying.
China began tourist cruises to the South China Sea on a trial basis in 2013 as part of efforts to cement its claims by boosting the civilian presence there.
In an interview with China Daily, Xiao Jie, mayor of what China calls Sansha city, said he hopes the area will become a major tourist attraction comparable to the Maldives.