US Keeping Close Eye on Chinese Military

A US spy plane flew unusually close to China's coast, and a US Navy warship was spotted shadowing a Chinese aircraft carrier

Tensions between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea continue to rise, as the US now maintains a regular naval presence in the waters and constantly flies spy planes near China’s coast.

According to a Chinese think tank, a US spy plane made an unusually close pass to China’s eastern coast on Tuesday, and several US military aircraft deployed to the South China Sea while Beijing was conducting live-fire exercises in recent days.

The South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI) said a US Air Force RC-135W reconnaissance aircraft came within 40 nautical miles of the Chinese city of Qingdao, where the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s North Sea Fleet is based. The closest-ever US flight to China recorded by the SCSPI came last month when the think tank tracked a US Air Force RC-135U that came within 25.33 nautical miles of the Chinese coastline.

The SCSPI said two US military aircraft also patrolled the South China Sea on Wednesday. The SCSPI has recorded a significant uptick in US military flights in the region over the past year, as the US has been increasingly focused on confronting China.

US warships are also keeping a close eye on the PLA. A video posted to Chinese social media by a South China Sea fisherman showed the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning conducting exercises near the Paracel Islands while being shadowed by a US warship. Experts told Newsweek that the US ship was likely an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.

The US officers watch the Liaoning from the deck of the Mustin (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Arthur Rosen)

Earlier this month, the US Navy released a photo of officers on board the USS Mustin, which is a guided-missile destroyer, while it was shadowing the Liaoning in the Philippines Sea.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.