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A U-2 spy plane entered a no-fly zone whilst a Chinese naval military drill was taking place. The incident has escalated tensions dramatically between the US and China, who have suffered worsened relations on everything from trade, human rights and military operations.
Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian revealed the close call between the US and China.
He said an American U-2 reconnaissance jet had entered a no-fly zone, over the People’s Liberation Army’s northern military region, without permission.
The flyover took place whilst China’s navy were practicing with live ammunition.
China has now protested the US actions, and lodged a formal complaint to Washington over the potential disaster.
Mr Wu added the US flyover was an “obvious provocation”, and could have been disastrous for relations between the two countries.
He added: “It seriously interfered in normal exercise activities.
“It seriously violated the code of safe behaviour for air and sea between China and the US and international norms.
“It easily leads to misjudgment, or could even cause accidents in the sea and air.
“The move was an obvious provocation. China firmly opposes such provocative actions and has lodged solemn representations with the US side.”
The US have dismissed China’s complaints, saying the flyover was done under acceptable conditions.
In a statement, the US army claimed U-2 was “within the accepted international rules and regulations governing aircraft flights”.
The statement went on to add Pacific air force personnel would “continue to fly and operate anywhere international law allows, at the time and tempo of our choosing”.
The Lockheed U-2 used in the operation can fly as high as 70,000 feet, and can provide day and night as well as all-weather intelligence gathering.
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It is the latest flashpoint of tensions between the US and China, and the most recent near-miss between the two country’s militaries.
Recently, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted China’s claims over the South China Sea, saying the area is “not China’s maritime empire”.
He added: “ If Beijing violates international law and free nations do nothing, history shows the Chinese Communist Party will simply take more territory.
“China Sea disputes must be resolved through international law.”
US President Donald Trump has recently used China as a central issue for his re-election campaign.
Speaking to supporters in North Carolina, Mr Trump claimed China will “own“ the US if he loses the presidency on November 3.
He added: “China will own the United States if this election is lost by Donald Trump.
“If I don’t win the election, China will own the United States. You’re going to have to learn to speak Chinese.”
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