China Rejects U.S. Claims That Fighter Menaced Navy Plane

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Image: A Chinese J-11 fighter jet is seen flying near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon east of China's Hainan Island
A Chinese J-11 fighter jet is seen flying near a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon about 215 km (135 miles) east of China's Hainan Island in this U.S. Department of Defense handout photo taken August 19, 2014. China on Saturday called US criticism of an approach by one of its jets to a US Navy patrol plane off the Chinese coast earlier this week "completely groundless" and said its pilot had maintained a safe distance from the US aircraft. Picture taken August 19, 2014. US NAVY / Reuters

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China’s Defense Ministry condemned U.S. claims that a Navy aircraft was threatened by a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea this week, calling the accusation “totally groundless.”

U.S. Defense Department spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said a Chinese fighter jet intercepted a Navy P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft in international airspace, making a pass between 50 to 100 feet away and said the fighter banked “to make a point of showing its weapons load-out.” Yang Yujun, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense said the J-11 fighter was on patrol and only approached to verify the aircraft’s identity and that its pilot was “professional” and kept a close distance.

Yujun accused the U.S. of conducting frequent close-in reconnaissance missions near China, and said those flights could lead to accidents between the two countries, and called on the U.S. to stop conducting reconnaissance flights near its borders.

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— Phil Helsel

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