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US spy plane intercepted

WASHINGTON – Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a US Navy surveillance plane over the South China Sea on Wednesday, with one coming within 180 meters of the American aircraft, US officials told Reuters.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial reports showed that the US P-3 Orion surveillance plane was 240 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong in international airspace when the Chinese aircraft carried out the unsafe intercept. One Chinese aircraft flew in front of the American plane, restricting its ability to maneuver.

The Pentagon confirmed that two Chinese jets had carried out the intercept, saying it was “unsafe and unprofessional.”

“We continue to review the facts of this incident and will convey our concerns through appropriate channels with the Chinese government,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Commander Gary Ross said in a statement.

China’s defense ministry said yesterday that the US account of the interception was inaccurate.

The Chinese jets operated in a professional and safe manner, the ministry said on its official account on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. (Reuters)