US warplane flew less than 100 km from Shanghai, says China think tank

An American battleship, destroyer USS Rafael Peralta was sailing below the aircraft, the think tank said.

Image Credit: Boeing

American warplanes have approached the Chinese mainland, with one reaching within 76.5km of Shanghai, one of the closest passes in recent years, a media report said on Monday amid deepening tensions between the two nations following the tit-for-tat closure of consulates.

A United States P-8A (Poseidon) anti-submarine plane and an EP-3E reconnaissance plane entered the Taiwan Strait, flying near the coast of Zhejiang and Fujian on Sunday, according to the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, a Peking University think tank. It first tweeted about the operation on Sunday morning, later adding that the reconnaissance plane was flying back after approaching Fujian and the southern part of the Taiwan Strait.

The think-tank tweeted again at night, saying the US Navy P-8A was operating near Shanghai, with the USS Rafael Peralta, a guided-missile destroyer, following a similar route, asking 'might be a joint operation', Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

According to a chart from the think tank, the P-8A came within 76.5km of Shanghai, the closest any US planes have come to mainland China in recent years, while the other plane came within 106km of Fujian's southern coast, the report said. It was the 12th day in a row that US military planes have approached the mainland coast, it said.

The US move comes amid an escalation in the diplomatic feud between the two nations. China on Monday said it took control of the US consulate in Chengdu after it was formally closed as per Beijing's directive in retaliation to America's move to shut down the Chinese diplomatic mission in Houston.

Last week, the US government ordered the closure of China's consulate in Houston, Texas, claiming the mission had been involved in a larger Chinese espionage effort using diplomatic facilities around the US. The closures were the latest in a series of confrontations ranging from areas such as trade and technology to diplomacy and the South China Sea.

Earlier this month, two US aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups conducted dual carrier operation in the disputed South China Sea amid China's drills.