Pentagon says P-3 Orion was buzzed over South China Sea, but defence ministry in Beijing says its fighters flew safely

Two Chinese fighter jets buzzed a US navy surveillance plane over the South China Sea on Wednesday, with one coming within 180 metres (200 yards) of the American aircraft, according to US officials.

The officials said initial reports showed that the US P-3 Orion surveillance plane was 150 miles (240km) south-east of Hong Kong in international airspace when the Chinese aircraft carried out the “unsafe” intercept. One Chinese aircraft flew in front of the American plane, restricting its ability to manoeuvre.

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