China is protesting the alleged incursion of a US Air Force U-2 spy plane into a no-fly zone imposed during live-fire military exercises in the country’s north.
In a statement issued late on Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said that the action had “seriously interfered in normal exercise activities” and “severely incurred the risk of misjudgment and even of bringing about an unintended air-sea incident.”
“This was a naked act of provocation,” the ministry said, quoting spokesman Colonel Wu Qian (吳謙).
China has lodged a stern protest and demanded that the US cease such actions, Wu said.
The statement did not give details on the time and place of the drills, but the information matches exercises that the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration said started on Monday and would run through Sept. 30 over the Bohai Gulf, east of Beijing.
Relations between the US and China have sunk to their lowest in decades amid disputes over myriad issues including trade, technology, Taiwan and the South China Sea.
High-altitude U-2 reconnaissance aircraft were flown over China, the former Soviet Union and other countries in the communist bloc during the Cold War and upgraded versions continue to support US missions.
China is also holding naval drills in the South China Sea, which it claims virtually in its entirety, but over which five other governments, including Taiwan, also exercise claims.
China objects to all US military activity in and over the strategic waterway, especially “freedom of navigation operations” during which US Navy ships sail near to Chinese-held islands.
Another naval exercise is planned from today to Sunday in the East China Sea, despite warnings issued over Typhoon Bavi, which is affecting the Korean Peninsula.
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