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End military surveillance missions, China tells US

End military surveillance missions, China tells US

China demanded Thursday that the U.S. military cease its surveillance missions off the Chinese coast, reviving a dispute that continues to upset relations between the sides.
Bilateral ties have been repeatedly roiled this year by standoffs between Chinese vessels and U.S. Navy surveillance ships operating inside China's exclusive economic zone.
China insists it has a right to restrict foreign military surveillance within its zone, but the U.S. says international agreements permit it to carry out such missions.
"China believes the constant U.S. military air and sea surveillance and survey operations in China's exclusive economic zone had led to military confrontations between the two sides," the official Xinhua News Agency said, quoting a Defense Ministry statement.
"The way to resolve China-U.S. maritime incidents is for the U.S. to change its surveillance and survey operations policies against China, decrease and eventually stop such operations," the statement said.
The demand came at the close of a two-day meeting Thursday in Beijing, conducted under the 1998 China-U.S. Military Maritime Consultative Agreement, which was supposed to provide a framework for resolving incidents between their forces.
China, however, has chosen to largely ignore the agreement during subsequent confrontations, including a 2001 aerial collision between a U.S. surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea. The incident led to the death of the Chinese pilot and the brief detention of the U.S. crew after landing the damaged plane at a Chinese naval air base.
No immediate information was available on how the U.S. side responded to China's demand.
Run-ins between the two militaries have become more frequent as the Chinese navy, after years of expansion, undertakes more missions, encountering a U.S. Navy used to maneuvering unchallenged.
As its power grows, China has also pressed claims to the entire South China Sea and coastal waters and asserted that surveillance by the U.S. military there was illegal.
The U.S. doesn't take a position on sovereignty claims to the sea _ subject to dispute among various Asian nations _ but insists on the U.S. Navy's right to transit the area and collect surveillance data.
Pentagon officials have said there were four incidents earlier this year where Chinese-flagged fishing vessels maneuvered close to unarmed U.S. ships crewed by civilians and used by the Pentagon to do underwater surveillance and submarine-hunting missions.
U.S. experts have urged the two sides to use the MMCA to reach a more comprehensive pact, similar to the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Incidents at Sea Agreement, under which violations are dealt with by senior Chinese and U.S. officials.
Thursday's Xinhua report made no mention of a discussion of any such agreement, although a top Chinese general said in June that the sides had agreed to work together to avoid future incidents.


Updated : 2020-12-02 16:11 GMT+08:00