Two Chinese SU-30 aircraft carried out what the United States military described on Thursday as an "unprofessional" intercept of an American aircraft designed to detect radiation while it was flying in international airspace over the East China Sea.
"The issue is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels," said Air Force spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Lori Hodge.
Hodge said the United States characterisation of the incident was based on initial reports from the aircrew aboard the WC-135 Constant Phoenix aircraft "due to the manoeuvres by the Chinese pilot, as well as the speeds and proximity of both aircraft."
"Distances always have a bearing on how we characterise interactions," Hodge said, adding a United States military investigation into the intercept was underway.
She said the WC-135 was carrying out a routine mission at the time and was operating in accordance with international law.
China is deeply suspicious of any United States military activity in the resource-rich South China Sea.
On 8 February, a United States Navy P-3 spy plane and a Chinese military aircraft came close to each other over the South China Sea in an incident the Navy saw as unsafe but also inadvertent.
Reuters reported at the time that the aircraft came within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of each other in the vicinity of the Scarborough Shoal, between the Philippines and the Chinese mainland.
Published Date: May 19, 2017 11:30 am | Updated Date: May 19, 2017 11:32 am