China accuses US over 'close-in reconnaissance'
Updated: 2014-08-28 19:01
BEIJING, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Defense Ministry has accused the US military of "close-in reconnaissance" in China's airspace in response to US criticism of a Chinese jet intercepting a US Navy patrol plane last Tuesday.
"The site of the incident is 220 km from China's Hainan Island, rather than the same distance from Hawaii or Florida of the United States," ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said at a regular news briefing on Thursday.
It is not "a Chinese intercept" but "US close-in reconnaissance."
The Pentagon had claimed that China's interception was "dangerous."
"What I need to stress is that the US side has kept talking about the technical issues like the distance between the two aircraft, but ignored a policy issue of highly frequent close-in reconnaissance activities against China," Yang said.
According to the spokesman, one US anti-submarine plane and one patrol aircraft flew into airspace about 220 km east of China's Hainan Island on the morning of Aug. 19, at which point a Chinese fighter jet took off to identify the aircraft in a standard operation.
"The United States calls it an 'unsafe and unprofessional intercept' and 'Chinese provocation,'" Yang said. "But indeed the Chinese pilot's operation is professional and has taken safety into consideration.
"As a developing country, China values its aircraft and pilots lives, certainly compared to some countries that have their military pilots fly close to other's doorsteps on a daily basis."
He said that US aircraft have conducted frequent reconnaissance against China for a long time, which has "gravely undermined China's security interests as well as China-US strategic mutual trust and bilateral ties."
The US State Department argued on Monday that its reconnaissance was transparent and that it had informed China. But Yang denied that, saying China had never received any information about such reconnaissance from the United States.
If the United States does not want to affect bilateral ties, it must reduce and ultimately stop such reconnaissance, said the spokesman.
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