China vows to act against intensified US military surveillance

Ministry warns of increased threat of military miscalculation as America steps up snooping

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 5:08am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 August, 2014, 11:55am

The Defence Ministry has vowed to take action against military surveillance by the United States off China's coast as it rejected Washington's claim that a Chinese fighter jet recklessly intercepted a US Navy aircraft last week.

Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a monthly press briefing yesterday that the threat of a military miscalculation had increased because the US had intensified surveillance of China's military. He said China would take steps to respond.

"We are closely monitoring the surveillance activities of the US military. We will take relevant measures to defend our maritime and air security based on the different levels of the threat," Yang said.

The US military always "comes to us uninvited when the Chinese army is having drills, training or staging experiments", he said. "Sometimes it even intrudes into the drills or training areas which China announced before the exercises took place."

His remarks came as talks in Washington between the two nations to set military rules of behaviour at sea were overshadowed by the alleged near collision last week between a Chinese fighter and a US surveillance plane in international airspace off Hainan Island .

Washington said the Chinese J-11 jet came within nine metres of US Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance plane and that Beijing had previously been informed of US surveillance missions.

Yang said the frequency and the scope of US surveillance against China's military had intensified in recent years, but Washington had not notified Beijing of its plans.

"Such moves undermine the national security of China and damage the mutual strategic trust and bilateral ties of the two nations," Yang said. "China calls upon the US to reduce or even stop the close surveillance of China's military."

Yang said the pilot of the Chinese jet reacted in a professional manner and had flown safely.

"Compared with a nation which asks its pilots to fly around the doorstep of other countries every day, China treasures the safety of our personnel and equipment more," he said.

Military observers said last week's encounter could have led to a serious confrontation similar to the 2001 incident when a Chinese pilot was killed after his fighter jet and a US spy plane collided near Hainan.