DOD, China at Odds over South China Sea Intercept

The Pentagon is pushing back on Chinese claims that a US Navy surveillance aircraft was flying in an unsafe manner, saying the aircraft was in international airspace when it was intercepted by two Chinese aircraft on Tuesday. “We believe our folks were flying in a safe manner, for sure,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said during a Thursday briefing. “This incident is still under review, but our aircrew felt that [the intercept] was not conducted in the safest and most professional way.” The two Chinese fighters intercepted the Navy surveillance aircraft in the South China Sea near the Chinese island province of Hainan. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei alleged US surveillance aircraft are “seriously endangering Chinese maritime security,” reported Reuters. The intercept comes days before President Obama begins a trip through Asia, during which he will likely address tensions in the South China Sea.