Chinese jets intercept US spy plane

The Pentagon says two Chinese fighters have carried out an “unsafe” intercept of a US military aircraft over the South China Sea,.

According to Pentagon the incident happened in international airspace on 17 May as the US maritime reconnaissance aircraft carried out a routine patrol in the area.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei, however denied any “dangerous manoeuvres from Chinese aircraft”.

Mr Lei responded to the US allegations saying they were “not true”.

“The US plane flew close to Hainan Island. Two Chinese aircraft followed and monitored at a safe distance. There were no dangerous manoeuvres from the Chinese aircraft. Their actions were completely professional and safe.”

The US defence department said it was addressing the issue through military and diplomatic channels.

“Over the past year, DoD has seen improvements in PRC actions, flying in a safe and professional manner,” the statement added, using the initials for People’s Republic of China.

South sea dispute
Several nations claim territory in the resource-rich South China Sea.

Tensions in the region have increased recently, with China and the US trading accusations over military activity.

A military official said the US pilot was forced to descend about 200ft to avoid a collision.

Washington has accused Beijing of militarising the South China Sea, which is also an important shipping route.

China in turn has also criticised increased US naval patrol and exercises in Asia.