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China tells US to halt spy plane flights

28 july 2011, 10:17
0
US U-2 aircraft. ©Reuters
US U-2 aircraft. ©Reuters
China has demanded that the United States stop spy plane flights near the Chinese coast, saying they have "severely harmed" trust between the two countries, AFP reports, citing state-run media Wednesday.

The comments came after Taiwanese media reported two Chinese fighter jets attempted to scare off an American U2 reconnaissance plane that was collecting intelligence on China while flying along the Taiwan strait in late June.

Beijing's defence ministry said the US must discontinue such flights, calling them a "major obstacle" as the two Pacific powers try to put a series of military disputes behind them, China's Global Times reported.

The flights "severely harmed" mutual trust, the paper quoted the ministry as saying.

"We demand that the US respects China's sovereignty and security interests, and take concrete measures to boost a healthy and stable development of military relations," it added.

The ministry declined immediate comment when contacted by AFP.

Washington has said in the past that its reconnaissance flights are conducted in international airspace and will continue.

Sino-US military relations have been plagued in recent years by periodic tensions stemming from US plans for arms sales to Taiwan and naval standoffs in the disputed South China Sea.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and refuses to abandon the possibility of taking the self-ruled island by force. The two sides split at the end of a civil war.

The United States recognises Beijing and not Taipei, but provides military support to Taiwan.

In the June encounter, one of the Chinese Sukhoi SU-27 fighters crossed over the Taiwan Strait's middle line, widely considered to be the boundary between Taiwan's airspace and that of the Chinese mainland, Taiwanese media have reported.

One of the Chinese jets did not leave until two Taiwanese planes were sent to intercept it, the island's United Daily News reported.

Washington is mulling a bilateral exchange of defence officials with Beijing to keep communication lines open, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen wrote in the New York Times this week.

Mullen, the top American military official, earlier this month became the first chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2007 to visit China, as the two sides seek to mend ties.

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