US, Chinese aircraft in ‘unsafe’ encounter over S. China Sea

US, Chinese aircraft in 'unsafe' encounter over S. China Sea

BEIJING — A Chinese early warning aircraft and a U.S. Navy patrol plane had an “unsafe” encounter over the South China Sea this week, the U.S. Pacific Command said Friday, in the first such incident known to have taken place under President Donald Trump’s administration.

The interaction between a Chinese KJ-200 and a U.S. Navy P-3C plane took place on Wednesday in international airspace, Pacific Command spokesman Robert Shuford said. He did not say what was unsafe about the encounter, although the term usually implies planes flying too close to one another.

Shuford says the U.S. plane was on a routine mission and operating according to international law. The Department of Defence and the Pacific Command “are always concerned about unsafe interactions with Chinese military forces,” he said.

The Chinese Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

However, the website of the Communist Party newspaper Global Times quoted an unidentified ministry official as saying that the Chinese pilot had responded in a “legal and professional manner.”

“We hope the U.S. side will focus on the relationship between the two countries and two militaries in their entirety, adopt concrete measures and eliminate the root causes of accidental incidents between the two countries on sea and in the air,” the unidentified official was quoted as saying.

Philippine Defence Department spokesman Arsenio Andolong also expressed concern because the incident happened near Scarborough Shoal, which is located within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone but claimed by China, which seized it in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels.

“We’re worried of possible miscalculation and it’s good to know that nothing untoward happened,” Andolong said by telephone. If such foreign aircraft venture into Philippine airspace, “we deserved to be told out of courtesy.”

Such incidents have occurred occasionally over and within the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety. Although China says it respects freedom of navigation in the strategically vital area, it objects to U.S. military activities, especially the collection of signals intelligence by U.S. craft operating near the coast of its southern island province of Hainan, home to several military installations.

In recent years, the sides have signed a pair of agreements aimed at preventing such encounters from sparking an international crisis, as happened in April 2001 when a Chinese jet fighter collided with a U.S. surveillance plane over the South China Sea, leading to the death of the Chinese pilot and China’s detention of the 24 U.S. crew members for 10 days.

___

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines contributed to this report.

Gillian Wong, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Surprise hot air balloon landings in Kelowna

Balloon with 6 passengers aboard lands on Blondeaux Crescent

Nitro Circus show hits Apple Bowl Friday

Kelowna’s Bruce Cook, who was rendered a paraplegic in 2014, will perform in his hometown

District wants Wood Lake swimming area to fall under its jurisdiction

The District of Lake Country applied to the province for a licence of occupation

Kelowna’s Apple Bowl, surrounding roads affected by show

Nitro Circus action sports show goes May 25 in the stadium

Big White announces new Slopestyle Invitational

The only North American Gold Level event begins July 5

MLA pushing province and pharmaceutical to save Vernon woman

Cystic fibrosis patient can’t afford $20,000/month medication she needs to survive

Star Gazing: What can we do to avoid being hit by an asteroid?

Ken Tapping, astronomer with the National Research Council’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory

Missing North Okanagan woman found dead

Ashton Creek’s Lisa Ruigrok was found in the Trinity Valley area; foul play not suspected

PNE’s Summer Night Concerts by Village People, Lauper, Goo Goo Dolls, more

Mostly retro sounds at this year’s fair in Vancouver, starting Aug. 18

Notley to skip western premiers meeting today, but slams leader who’s there

Notley told reporters that B.C. Premier John Horgan is trying to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline

No suitors emerge for pipeline project stake as Kinder Morgan deadline looms

Analysts and observers remain perplexed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s comment last week that “plenty of investors would be interested in taking on this project”.

Energy wells plugged as Hawaii’s volcano sends lava nearby

A spike in gas levels could prompt a mass evacuation in Hawaii

Trump seethes over Russia probe, calls for end to ‘SPYGATE’

“SPYGATE could be one of the biggest political scandals in history!” Trump said on Twitter

Grads receive BC Transit passes

BC Transit provides passes to graduating students in more than 50 communities

Most Read