Skip to main content

Stop spy flights, China warns the U.S.

By Sophie Brown, CNN
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • China tells U.S. to end surveillance flights off its coast
  • U.S. says Chinese fighter jet made dangerous, unprofessional passes near U.S. patrol plane
  • Chinese defense ministry disputes U.S. claims
  • China: U.S. spies on Chinese military drills, weapons tests

Hong Kong (CNN) -- China has warned the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory, rejecting claims by Washington that a Chinese fighter jet made several "dangerous" and "unprofessional" passes at a U.S. Navy plane last week.

The U.S. should take "concrete measures" towards ending reconnaissance operations off the coast of China if it wants to improve bilateral ties between the two countries, a spokesperson for China's Defense Ministry, Yang Yujun, said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

On August 19, a Chinese fighter jet intercepted a U.S. Navy Poseidon patrol plane in the South China Sea about 135 miles east of the Chinese island of Hainan, coming as close as 20 feet at one point, according to the Pentagon.

The armed Chinese aircraft crossed close beneath the P-8 Poseidon three times, according to U.S. Defense Department spokesman Rear. Adm. John Kirby, who described the maneuvers as "pretty aggressive, very unprofessional."

Lockheed engineers are developing a hypersonic aircraft that will go twice the speed of the SR-71 Blackbird, which goes three times the speed of sound. That aircraft, seen in this photo illustration, is called the SR-72 or "Son of Blackbird." Take a look through the gallery to see other stealth and spy planes. Lockheed engineers are developing a hypersonic aircraft that will go twice the speed of the SR-71 Blackbird, which goes three times the speed of sound. That aircraft, seen in this photo illustration, is called the SR-72 or "Son of Blackbird." Take a look through the gallery to see other stealth and spy planes.
Stealth and spy planes
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
>
>>
Stealth and spy planes Stealth and spy planes

It was the fourth such incident this year, according to the Pentagon.

China pilot 'professional'

Yang dismissed the claims Thursday, saying that the pilot had been "professional" and that "due regard" had been given to safety.

He accused the U.S. of focusing on the distance between the aircraft during the encounter while ignoring the fact that its military had been conducting frequent surveillance missions against China, which he said was a policy issue.

"On the one hand, the U.S. expressed their willingness to deepen a military-to-military relationship with China, but on the other hand, they are reluctant to give up these frequent close-in reconnaissance activities against China," Yang said.

U.S. military ships and aircraft have long been conducting "wide-ranging" surveillance activities near China, undermining Beijing's security interests and damaging bilateral ties between the two countries, Yang said, warning that the missions could lead to "undesirable incidents."

Yang accused the United States of spying on Chinese military exercises, trainings and weapons tests in the air and at sea.

"These behaviors of U.S. military ships and aircraft could easily cause misperception and miscalculation or even air and sea accidents. Therefore we do urge the U.S. side to decrease these close-in reconnaissance activities against China towards a complete stop."

A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon
A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon

He said China had expressed its concerns to the United States through multiple channels, including diplomacy.

Asked how China would respond if the United States failed to end its surveillance operations, Yang said the Chinese military's future missions would be decided based on "various factors," without elaborating further.

Yang dismissed claims by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki Monday that U.S. surveillance activities are conducted in a transparent manner and that other countries, including China are made aware of Washington's plans.

"There has not been any notification to the Chinese side," he said.

Past encounters

In April 2001, a Chinese fighter jet and a U.S. patrol plane carrying a crew of 24 collided off Hainan, forcing the U.S. craft to make an emergency landing on the island.

Blaming the United States for the incident, Chinese officials said their J-8 fighter crashed into the South China Sea -- killing the pilot.

The United States called for the immediate return of the high-tech EP-3 aircraft and the crew.

The crew were allowed to return to the United States 11 days after the collision, and the dismantled spy plane was flown home some weeks later.

The United States conducts around 500 reconnaissance missions near China each year, according to Chinese military analyst Zhang Junshe.

China wary of Japan defense plans

U.S., Chinese warships come dangerously close

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
Chinese students show a handmade red ribbon one day ahead of the the World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east China's Anhui province on November 30, 2009.
Over 200 Chinese villagers in Sichuan province have signed a petition to banish a HIV-positive eight-year-old boy, state media reported.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane, forcing the Nanjing-bound plane to turn back to Bangkok.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 0503 GMT (1303 HKT)
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Like Beijing today, Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons.
December 6, 2014 -- Updated 0542 GMT (1342 HKT)
At the height of his power, Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0826 GMT (1626 HKT)
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0648 GMT (1448 HKT)
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 0855 GMT (1655 HKT)
Despite an anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past 12 months.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
A 24-hour Taipei bookstore is a hangout for hipsters as well as bookworms.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
ADVERTISEMENT