US Military: PRC Fighter Jet Buzzed American Plane

On Thursday, US Indo-Pacific Command said that a Chinese navy J-11 fighter jet flew dangerously close to a United States Air Force RC-135 surveillance aircraft over the geopolitically contentious South China Sea on Dec. 21.

US Military: PRC Fighter Jet Buzzed American Plane
Image credit: Al Jazeera and News Agencies

Facts

  • On Thursday, US Indo-Pacific Command said that a Chinese navy J-11 fighter jet flew dangerously close to a United States Air Force RC-135 surveillance aircraft over the geopolitically contentious South China Sea on Dec. 21.
  • According to a US military representative, the PRC jet came within 10 feet (3 meters) of the US plane's wing, but 20 feet (6 meters) from its nose. This reportedly forced the US aircraft to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a crash in international airspace.
  • At the time of the incident, the American reconnaissance plane "was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace," per the US military.
  • After the incident, the US military issued a statement stating, “We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law."
  • Washington characterizes these incidents as a trend by the Chinese military in its interactions with the US and its allies in the region.
  • The PRC's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, responded to the allegation by saying, "The provocative and dangerous actions of the U.S. are the root cause of maritime security issues."

Sources: Al Jazeera, Reuters, DW, Guardian, Japan Times, and NBC.

Narratives

  • Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global Times. The PRC has consistently asked the US to back off from meddling in China's internal affairs. Whether it be through the State Dept., CIA, or armed forces, the US has long sought to secretly undermine China instead of cooperating in the open as a friendly partner. The US can't fathom a world in which it can't bully each nation into doing its bidding. The allegations of this incident ignore this fundamental root cause.
  • Anti-China narrative, as provided by FPRI. As China rapidly strengthens its military capabilities — and subsequent aggressive posture — the US can and must use both unilateral and multilateral diplomatic and military strategies to confront a looming threat. Preemptive but cautious moves are necessary to show China a united Western front willing to defend regions like Taiwan if need be. PRC aggression caused unsafe conditions in international skies.

Predictions