China says US accusation of ‘risky’ aerial intercepts politically motivated

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s defence ministry said on Friday that a U.S. Department of Defense statement accusing its military of “risky and coercive” aerial intercepts was a premeditated smear on China with ulterior political motives.

“China is firmly opposed to it and has lodged stern representations to the U.S. side,” the ministry said in a statement.

The U.S. Department of Defense said on Tuesday that Chinese fighter jets had been increasingly engaging in coercive and risky operational behavior in the Indo-Pacific since 2021.

It added that: “The unsafe interceptions of U.S. and allied aircraft in international airspace is a centralized and concerted campaign by Chinese officials to coerce a change in lawful U.S. operational activity”.

The Chinese defence ministry said in response that the U.S. had been hyping up a “Chinese military threat” that it said was non-existent.

“The root cause of the maritime and air military security issues between China and the U.S. lies in the fact that U.S. warships and planes come to China’s doorstep from afar to cause trouble and provocation,” the ministry said.

It urged the U.S. to stop what it called provocative actions, avoid “misunderstandings and misjudgment” and prevent maritime and air accidents.

(Reporting by Ethan Wang and Ryan Woo; Editing by Hugh Lawson)