BEIJING: China on Tuesday defended the action of its fighter jets flying close to a US naval plane in the East China Sea, saying American aircraft coming near China's border and carrying out military observation has threatened China's national security.
China's Defence Ministry was responding to a report that the US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft had to take evasive action on Sunday after a Chinese J-10 warplane zoomed underneath it. The ministry said the action of its pilots was "legal, necessary and professional".
"The US military aircraft coming near China's border and carrying out reconnaissance has threatened China's national security, damaged Sino-US military air and sea safety, endangered the personal safety of both pilots," it said in a statement.
"The US side should immediately stop such unsafe, unprofessional and unfriendly dangerous military activities and take practical measures to add positive energy to the development of Sino-US military relations," it said.
Reports from the US quoting Pentagon as saying that the US Navy aircraft had to take evasive action on Sunday after a Chinese J-10 warplane conducted sorties perilously close to it.
The Chinese jet reportedly flew beneath it, slowed down and appeared in front of it, the Pentagon said earlier.
The East China Sea is part of the Pacific and home to small islands whose ownership is disputed by China, Japan and Taiwan. China also claims a string of islets across the South China Sea.
The US accused China of conducting unsafe intercepts twice in May, when similar encounters occurred between a WC135 "nuclear sniffer" plane and Chinese SU-30 fighters over the East China Sea and later in the month between a US Navy P-3 and Chinese J-10s over the South China Sea.