• The Pentagon on Tuesday accused China of an "unnecessarily aggressive maneuver" in aerial operations over the South China Sea, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressing a day later that this is the latest in a rising number of incidents involving Chinese military aircraft and ships.
  • Video footage per US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) shows a PRC J-16 fighter pilot flying close to the US Air Force RC-135. This prompted the American spy aircraft to navigate through turbulence generated by the PRC plane.
  • While the INDOPACOM reaffirmed that its reconnaissance aircraft was conducting "safe and routine operations" in international airspace, China claimed the plane "deliberately intruded" into its training zone.
  • This incident and the subsequent reactions are the latest escalations above the South China Sea. Beijing has made broad territorial claims, covering much of the region, but the US has argued that Chinese claims could violate the sovereignty of other countries.
  • Last Friday's narrow fly-by is reminiscent of a similar event that occurred in December when the US accused a Chinese J-11 fighter pilot of performing "an unsafe maneuver" to intercept an RC-135.
  • The news comes as Beijing has denied US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's request to speak with counterpart Li Shangfu at a Pacific security summit in Singapore this weekend. China stopped military-to-military communications with the US after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan trip last year.


Anti-China narrative

China's current shift to increasing its international power is occurring at the expense of the US. Washington must maintain its position in international politics, for the sake of ensuring PRC ideology does not become the global norm. The US must up its fight against Chinese aggression and continue to strengthen deterrents in the Indo-Pacific.

Pro-China narrative

Ahead of the important meeting of nations in Singapore, the US has once again deployed a commonly-used tactic of branding the Chinese interception of a US spy plane as unprofessional and dangerous. Washington's Cold War mindset against China — continuing provocative actions violating Chinese sovereignty — will continue to be met with necessary measures.

Nerd narrative

There's an 18% chance of a US-China war before 2035, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

Articles on this story

Sign up to our newsletter!