A collision of a US military aircraft with a Chinese fighter occurred on April 1st in the sky over the South-China Sea. According to the Chinese version, a US reconnaissance plane, which was flying over the Chinese area of water, was being escorted by 2 Chinese fighters. All of a sudden, the American pilot swerved having rammed one of Chinese fighters, after which the latter crashed while the American plane made an emergency unauthorized landing at the Linzhui airport. The US Air Force, in its turn, denies the collision took place within China’s air space. According to this version, the incident occurred 80 miles offshore, being far beyond the 12-mile strip of the Chinese territorial waters. The American side also denies a ramming attack allegedly made by the US plane asserting that a cumbersome EP-3 slow-mover could hardly have rammed a nimble jet. At the same time, everybody in the US concede EP-3 planes, stuffed with top-secret electronics, do perform regular reconnaissance flights along the Chinese border. The Chinese pilot’s fate as well as the situation with the US plane remain far from clear. The Chinese have strongly protested to the American side pinning on it all the responsibility and claiming the damages. Besides, China is not going to be quick returning the US its 24 EP-3 crew members, and is sure to avail itself of the top-secret equipment believed to be installed aboard the aircraft. All in all, one thing is certain: the tragedy, which happened over the South China Sea, will further exacerbate US-Chinese relationships.
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