China Calls for An End to U.S. Spy Flights Near Its Coast

China asked the U.S. to stop flying American reconnaissance aircraft near its coast that seriously affect the trust between the two countries.

According to Taiwan media, in late June two Chinese fighter jets attempted to expel U.S. reconnaissance aircraft U2, which were in intelligence mission in the Taiwan Strait.

China’s Ministry of Defense estimates that U.S. flights are a major obstacle to bilateral relations, as the two Pacific powers resumed this year their military contacts at the highest level.

“We ask the U.S. to respect the sovereignty and Chinese interests in security, and take concrete steps to a healthy and stable development of military relations,” said the Ministry of Defence.

The Pentagon spokesman said no U.S. spy plane had entered Chinese airspace without giving more details on this recent episode.

“I can tell you that we are conducting reconnaissance missions in international airspace on a regular basis and it is common that China sends fighter jets,” said Col. Dave Lapan reporters.

He said this demonstrates the need to deepen dialogue with China. “There are areas where we (the U.S. and China) do not agree. For us, it is a question of freedom of navigation, whether in international waters or in international airspace.”

The Sino-US relations are marked by recurring tensions on United States arms sales to Taiwan. The United States recognized China diplomatically, but supplying arms to Taiwan.

During the incident of June, two Chinese Sukhoi SU-27 crossed the middle of the Taiwan Strait, often considered a dividing line between the Chinese and Taiwanese airspace.

Beijing also complained the presence of U.S. military ships in South China Sea, waters claimed by several countries in the region.

To maintain communication with Beijing, the United States are considering an exchange of military officials, said this week the U.S. Chief of Staff Mike Mullen.

Admiral Mullen became the first highest-ranking U.S. military official to visit China since 2007.

In early 2010, China had suspended military relations with the United States in retaliation for Washington’s announcement of arms sales of six billion dollars to Taiwan. The contacts were resumed in December.