WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chinese military aircraft have carried out risky or reckless maneuvers close to U.S. aircraft nearly 200 times since 2021, a U.S. official said on Tuesday, putting a figure on what the Pentagon has called China’s increasingly dangerous behavior in the skies.
But despite the large number of risky intercepts, the official declined to say how many of those close calls were “unsafe and unprofessional”- a standard military term when interactions are actually dangerous.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there had been 180 incidents since 2021 against U.S. military aircraft and it increased to 300 when it included maneuvers near aircraft of allies.
On Monday, Chinese fighter jets intercepted a Canadian military plane, which Ottawa said was dangerous and reckless.
In June 2022, Canada’s military accused Chinese warplanes of harassing its patrol aircraft as they monitored North Korea sanction evasions, sometimes forcing Canadian planes to divert from their flight paths.
Relations between China and the United States have been tense, with friction between the world’s two largest economies over everything from Taiwan and China’s human rights record to its military activity in the South China Sea
But Washington has been eager to revive military-to-military communications with China.
Last week the Pentagon said it had accepted an invitation to attend China’s top annual security forum in late October, the latest sign of potentially warming ties between the two countries’ militaries.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)