Pentagon accuses China of “concerted” harassment of U.S. aircraft

October 18, 2023

The Pentagon on Tuesday declassified photos and video of 15 incidents in which it says Chinese jets harassed U.S. aircraft. 

The images were put forth as evidence of what Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, called a “centralized and concerted campaign” by Chinese officials to “coerce a change in lawful U.S. operational activity.”

Rather spoke at the Pentagon Tuesday alongside Navy Adm. John Aquilino, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The pair discussed the dangers of Chinese intercepts against peace in the region.

According to Ratner, there have been more than 180 instances of “coercive and risky” maneuvers by Chinese jets against U.S. aircraft in the Indo-Pacific since the fall of 2021—more than in the entire decade prior to then.

He said the maneuvers were “all as part of trying to interfere with the ability of U.S. forces to operate safely.”

One of the declassified videos, which can be seen here, was taken in July and shows a Chinese jet deploying flares over the East China Sea. According to the Department of Defense, the jet sent eight flares just 900 feet from a U.S. plane.

The most recent video, posted here, is from last month. In it, the Pentagon says a Chinese jet approached within just 50 feet of a U.S. plane over the South China Sea.

This was not the first time the Pentagon has complained about Chinese crafts harassing U.S. crafts—nor do the incidents always take place in the air. In June, the U.S. released video of what it called an “unsafe” interaction in the Taiwan Strait by a Chinese destroyer.

At the time, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command asserted, “The U.S. military flies, sails, and operates safely and responsibly anywhere international law allows,” adding that both U.S. and Canadian vessels’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the two countries’ “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

PHOTO: Chinese fighter jet “harassing” U.S. craft, per Pentagon

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