Two Chinese J-10 fighter jets tried to intercept a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea on Thursday, U.S. officials said.
One J-10 fighter flew about 200 yards (180 meters) in front of a U.S. P-3 spy plane and conducted "unsafe" maneuvers, a U.S. official told CNN. The maneuvers restricted the ability of the U.S. plane to fly, the official said.
The U.S. Navy plane's operations were able to "continue unimpeded," said U.S. Navy spokesman Gary Ross. The Navy said the U.S. plans to address the incident with the Chinese government.
Chinese officials have not yet responded to the fighter jets' encounter, which took place on the same day that the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Dewey sailed within 12 miles of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea.
At a press conference on Thursday, Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang condemned the destroyer's operations and confirmed PLA Navy's missile frigates sent a warning and drove the destroyer from the area.
"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and the neighboring sea area, and the Chinese military firmly opposes the U.S. military's move which will militarize the region and increase the possibility of accidents in both sea and air. China has made solemn representations to the U.S.," Ren said.
This latest moves are the first provocation by the U.S. since President Donald Trump took office, coming after Sino-U.S. ties showed signs of stabilizing following the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Trump in early April.