China’s two SU-30 aircraft carried out intercept of a US aircraft WC-135 designed to detect radiation while it was flying in international airspace over the East China Sea.
One of the Chinese jets was flying as near as 150ft (45m) to the US WC-135 plane and flew upside down above it, US officials were quoted as saying by CNN Friday.
The problem is being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic as well as military channels.
Considering the details provided by US crew aboard the WC-135 constant Phoenix aircraft about the encounter, China’s move is believed to be “unprofessional” due to the distance between planes and their speed. The WC-135 aircraft is specifically designed to collect data about possible nuclear explosions.
However, this is not the first encounter of the US with China.
In February, a Chinese early warning aircraft and US Navy patrol plane had an "unsafe" encounter over the South China Sea, again over international airspace.
Such incidents have occurred occasionally over and within the South China Sea, which China claims virtually in its entirety.
Even though China claims that it respects freedom of navigation in the strategically vital area, it objects to US military activities, especially the collection of signals intelligence by US craft operating near the coast of its southern island province of Hainan, home to several military installations.
In recent years, the both the nations have signed a couple of agreements aimed at preventing such encounters from sparking an international crisis, as happened in April 2001 when a Chinese jet fighter collided with a US surveillance plane over the South China Sea, leading to the death of the Chinese pilot and China's detention of the 24 US crew members for 10 days.