A senior Chinese military official in Beijing told President Obama's visiting national security advisor to end "close-in reconnaissance" less than a month after an armed Chinese fighter jet conducted an aggressive midair intercept of a U.S. Navy aircraft.
According to a report Tuesday by China’s state-run New China News Agency, Chinese official Fan Changlong advised Susan Rice that the U.S. military “should reduce and ultimately stop” its spy missions on China.
The comment, a reflection of an opinion long held by the Chinese government, was made to Rice on the last day of a three-day visit to China to discuss expanding partnership between the two nations.
Rice, a former U.S. United Nations ambassador, met with Chinese government and military leaders in anticipation of Obama's visit to the country and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit there in November.
She discussed long-term strategic and economic interests of the U.S. and China with president Xi Jinping.
But one subject that came up with the military was a U.S. spy plane encounter Aug. 19.
The fighter allegedly made three passes dangerously near the U.S. plane, at one point putting their wingtips as close as 30 feet apart. The encounter ended with the Chinese pilot doing a barrel roll over the top of the U.S. plane.
Since then, the Chinese government has been sensitive to U.S. reconnaissance missions. The Pentagon has been resolute that it will not stop carrying out what it calls routine flights.
"We're going to continue to fly in international airspace the way we've been, just like we're going to continue to sail our ships in international waters the way we've been," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said last month. "The United States is a Pacific power; we have responsibilities: five of seven treaty alliances in the Pacific region. We're going to meet those security commitments."