Nov 18, 2014

China raised issue of U.S. spy flights during military talks

China raised the thorny subject of U.S. military spy flights during talks that led to agreements this week on reducing friction between the two militaries, but was told U.S. missions in international airspace and waters would continue, the Pentagon said.
The closed-door conversations underscore China's sensitivity to surveillance by U.S. P-8 Poseidon spy planes and other aircraft, especially off Hainan Island, home to a major Chinese submarine base. A Chinese intercept of a P-8 plane in international airspace off Hainan in August was described as dangerous by Washington.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced the military agreements on Wednesday after meeting his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing.
They require each country to notify the other of major military activities, including exercises, as well as cover rules of behavior for air and maritime encounters.
At one point during the discussions, Chinese officials had raised the matter of U.S. military spy flights that, in Beijing's view, have come too close to Hainan.
China sees the airspace around Hainan as part of its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, which, in its view, ought to be restricted. The U.S. military says it has the right to fly any kind of mission it chooses in international airspace, which begins 12 nautical miles from a country's coastline.
The incident in August, when a Chinese fighter jet intercepted a P-8 Poseidon plane some 135 miles (215 km) east of Hainan, highlighted the risks as the two militaries rub up against each other in the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean.
The Chinese jet made several passes, crossing over and under it. At one point, it flew wingtip-to-wingtip and then performed a barrel roll over the top of the spy plane, U.S. officials have said. China has said the pilot kept a safe distance.

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