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China raised issue of U.S. spy flights during military talks: Pentagon

raised the thorny subject of U.S. military spy flights during talks
that led to agreements this week on reducing friction between the two
militaries, but was told U.S. missions in international airspace and
waters would continue, the Pentagon said.

The closed-door
conversations underscore China’s sensitivity to surveillance by U.S. P-8
Poseidon spy planes
and other aircraft, especially off Hainan Island,
home to a major Chinese submarine base. A Chinese intercept of a P-8
in international airspace off Hainan in August was described as
dangerous by Washington. 

U.S. President Barack Obama announced the military agreements on Wednesday after meeting his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing.

require each country to notify the other of major military activities,
including exercises, as well as cover rules of behavior for air and
maritime encounters. Guidelines on encounters between naval surface
vessels had been drawn up, the White House said, adding similar
guidelines governing air-to-air encounters would be formulated.

U.S P-8 Poseidon spy plane
U.S P-8 Poseidon spy plane

one point during the discussions, Chinese officials had raised the
matter of U.S. military spy flights that, in Beijing’s view, have come
too close to Hainan, said Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Pool, a Pentagon

did raise the issue of restricting U.S. operations in international
airspace and both sides discussed their positions,” Pool told Reuters.

have consistently opposed any Chinese proposals that would limit U.S.
operations in the air or sea beyond the territorial limits of coastal
states, place U.S. alliances at risk (or) constrain activities with U.S.
allies or partners.”

The Chinese Defence Ministry did not respond to questions from Reuters on this issue.
the ministry said in a statement that the military agreements were the
result of more than 10 rounds of “deep consultations” and an important
step in increasing understanding of each other’s strategic intentions.

is willing to work with the United States and take this opportunity to
continue deepening military exchanges, trust, cooperation and the
appropriate handling of differences,” it said.

sees the airspace around Hainan as part of its 200-nautical mile
exclusive economic zone, which, in its view, ought to be restricted. The
U.S. military says it has the right to fly any kind of mission it
chooses in international airspace, which begins 12 nautical miles from a
country’s coastline.

incident in August, when a Chinese fighter jet intercepted a P-8
plane some 135 miles (215 km) east of Hainan, highlighted the
risks as the two militaries rub up against each other in the South China
Sea and Pacific Ocean.

Chinese jet made several passes, crossing over and under it. At one
point, it flew wingtip-to-wingtip and then performed a barrel roll over
the top of the spy plane, U.S. officials have said. China has said the
pilot kept a safe distance.