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‘Chinese fighter came within 20 feet of the American plane’

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The US military said on Tuesday that a Chinese fighter jet approached a US Air Force aircraft within 20 feet (6 metres) and prompted it to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid collision over the South China Sea.

The US military added in a statement that the incident, which involved a Chinese Navy J-11 fighter jet and a US Air Force RC-135, occurred on December 21.

Beijing often invokes the so-called nine-point line to justify its apparent historical rights over most of the South China Sea. It ignored the 2016 International Tribunal ruling that declared this assertion unfounded.

“Joint Indo-Pacific Force is dedicated to a free and open Indo-Pacific and will continue to fly, sail and operate in international sea and airspace with due regard for the safety of all ships and aircraft under international law,” the statement added.

In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in November, the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, raised the need to improve communications in a crisis, and also referred to what he called the dangerous behavior of Chinese military aircraft.

The Australian Ministry of Defense said in June that a Chinese fighter jet seriously intercepted an Australian military reconnaissance plane in the South China Sea area in May.

Australia said the Chinese aircraft had circled close to the RAAF aircraft and released a “packet of chaff” containing small pieces of aluminum that were swallowed into the engine of the Australian aircraft.

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