'Chinese pilot acted legally in encounter with US military plane'

Beijing: A Chinese pilot had responded "legally and professionally" to a close encounter between military planes from China and the US over the South China Sea, a media report said on Saturday.

A US plane approached a Chinese military jet on a routine mission near the Huangyan Island and the Chinese pilot responded with legal and professional measures, Global Times quoted an official of China's Defence Ministry as saying.

"We hope that the US could take the bilateral military relations into consideration and adopt practical measures to eliminate the root cause of air and sea mishaps between the two countries," said the official.

A US Navy P-3 plane and a Chinese military aircraft came close to each other over the South China Sea in an incident the US Navy believes was inadvertent, according to a media report.

According to the US official, the aircraft came within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of each other on Wednesday in the vicinity of the Huangyan Island.

The official added that such incidents involving Chinese and American aircraft are infrequent, with only two having taken place in 2016.

"On February 8, an interaction characterized by US Pacific Command as 'unsafe' occurred in international air space above the South China Sea, between a Chinese KJ-200 aircraft and a US Navy P-3C aircraft," said the statement quted by the a news outlet.

The KJ-200 is a propeller airborne early warning and control aircraft based originally on the old Soviet-designed An-12.(IANS)