R E P O R T : China to continue intercepting US jets that come too close

9:49:00 PM
WASHINGTON — China’s navy commander has vowed to continue intercepting United States military surveillance planes that come close to its coast, while saying he wants to avoid a repeat of a collision that downed two jets 13 years ago, killing a Chinese pilot.

“It’s become routine for the US to conduct close-in surveillance of China and I don’t see the end of these activities. The US won’t be the US if it stops doing it,” People’s Liberation Army navy chief Admiral Wu Shengli told top US navy officials at an global forum in Newport, Rhode Island, on Wednesday, said a report in the state-owned Global Times newspaper yesterday. “But China’s countermeasures won’t end either.”

Beijing’s attendance this week at the 21st International Seapower Symposium was its first at the forum. This comes a month after planes from the two countries had an encounter over the South China Sea.

Adm Wu said Beijing did not want “to sacrifice a second Wang Wei”, referring to the pilot killed in the crash off China’s southernmost Hainan island in April 2001.

He told his American hosts that although Beijing would continue to identify and closely check all reconnaissance activities off the Chinese coast, he did not want to see a repeat of the incident, when a Chinese fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 surveillance plane.

Wang Wei was killed in the collision, which caused the first diplomatic crisis of former US President George W Bush’s administration, after the American aircraft made an emergency landing on Hainan island.

The encounter on Aug 19 took place about 217km east of Hainan, which is also the site of a sensitive Chinese submarine base. US officials have said the Chinese fighter jet flew within a few metres of the American P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft several times and did a barrel roll over it.

Beijing has dismissed the criticism as groundless and said the pilot kept a safe distance.

China’s presence at the 113-nation symposium underscores its efforts to raise the international profile of its armed forces.

President Xi Jinping has pledged to turn China into a maritime power and make its military a modern fighting force, as the country is involved in spats with neighbours Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan over disputed territory.

(PHOTO) US Navy EP-3 ARES II (Airborne Reconnaissance Integrated Electronic System II) Electronic Surveillance / Reconnaissance Aircraft.



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