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China warns US against "dangerous" overflight over SCS

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P-8 Poseidon plane surveillance aircraft of US Navy.

BEIJING (PTI): China has warned the US against conducting "dangerous" overflight by surveillance aircraft as it claimed to have driven away an American spy plane with radio warnings while the plane was snooping over artificial islands Beijing is building in the disputed South China Sea.

The foreign ministry condemned the overflight as "highly irresponsible and dangerous", warning that such actions by the US could cause "untoward incidents".

"The reconnaissance plane flew close to China's Nansha islands on May 20 to carry out surveillance Operations and China's garrison troops drove it away by radio communication in accordance with the relevant regulations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told media briefing in Beijing on May 22.

The P-8 Poseidon plane, the US military's most advanced surveillance aircraft, with CNN television crew on board flew over Spratly archipelago called by China as Nansha islands when it received several warnings from the Chinese military to retreat.

The incident filmed by the US network including the warning issued by Chinese navy asking the plane to leave, came in the backdrop of China's assertions that its claims over the SCS has not affected the freedom of navigation in the region insisted by India and several other countries.

Condemning the overflight, Hong said, "It is worth pointing out that US action has posed threat to the security of Chinese. It is highly likely to cause untoward incidents and it is utterly irresponsible and dangerous. It does no good to safeguarding regional peace and stability."

"We are strongly dissatisfied with this. We urge the US side to strictly follow the international regulations and stop taking any risky and provocative actions," he said.

Hong said China will keep a close eye on the relevant areas and take necessary measures to guard against any harm to China's islands and incidents in the waters and airspace.

China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, which hotly contest China's claims over SCS, have overlapping claims.

China is undertaking land-reclamation programme in the disputed area, building artificial islands and facilities including an airstrip, raising tensions with the US.

The US does not recognise China's claims to the artificial islands. But China has repeatedly said it has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha islands and adjacent waters.

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