US Accuses Chinese Fighter of ‘Unsafe’ Approach to B-52 Bomber

Oct. 27, 2023

Beijing — A Chinese fighter jet has approached a US B-52 bomber over the South China Sea in what the US military described as a dangerous manoeuvre.

The pilot of the J-11 fighter flew below and in front of the US aircraft at a distance of about 3 metres "in an unsafe and unprofessional manner" and "demonstrated poor airmanship," the US Indo-Pacific Command said late on Thursday.

A video released by the US military showed the approaching fighter jet. According to the US, the incident took place at night and in low visibility "in a manner contrary to international air safety rules and norms."

The United States and China have repeatedly accused each other of dangerous behaviour at sea and in the air in the Indo-Pacific.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Mao Ning blamed the US for the unstable situation in the South China Sea. She said the fact that the US military is operating on China's doorstep is the cause of the security risks at sea and in the air.

Mao, speaking in Beijing on Friday, said that China will continue to protect its territorial integrity.

The incident occurred during China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Washington, where he had met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday.

A meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was scheduled for Friday at the White House.

Wang said on Thursday that Beijing wants to "reduce misunderstanding and misjudgement" with the US, ahead of his meeting with Blinken.

According to the US, there have already been more than 180 such incidents with the Chinese military since the autumn of 2021.

Recently, both sides have repeatedly published pictures of the incidents. On Thursday, for example, China's Defence Ministry distributed a video that purported to show the US Navy's destroyer USS Ralph Johnson cutting the route of the Chinese destroyer Guilin with a sharp turn.

China accused the US of provocation with the manoeuvre on August 19.

The South China Sea is regularly the scene of military exercises and threatening gestures. In the northern part of the sea, China has accused the US of provocations by sending naval ships across the strait between China and Taiwan, a democratically governed island backed by the US that Beijing claims as part of its territory.

In the south, China has made claims to various reefs in the sea, provoking disputes with the Philippines, a US ally.

There have been repeated incidents between Chinese and Philippine ships as well.

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