At one stage, after the American pilots responded by saying the plane was flying through international airspace, a Chinese radio operator said with exasperation "This is the Chinese navy ... You go!"

The P8-A Poseidon, the U.S. military's most advanced surveillance aircraft, flew at 15,000 feet (4,500 metres) at its lowest point, as per media reports.

The incident, along with recent Chinese warnings to Philippine military aircraft to leave areas around the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea, suggests Beijing is trying to enforce a military exclusion zone above its new islands.
Some security experts worry about the risk of confrontation, especially after a U.S. official said last week the Pentagon was considering sending military aircraft and ships to assert freedom of navigation around the Chinese-made islands. A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said he was not aware of the incident.
According to media reports it was the first time the Pentagon had declassified video of China's building activity and audio of challenges to a US Aircraft.

“We were just challenged 30 minutes ago and the challenge came from the Chinese navy," said Captain Mike Parker, commander of US surveillance aircraft deployed to Asia.
"I'm highly confident it came from ashore, this facility here," Parker said, pointing to an early warning radar station on Fiery Cross Reef.  Asia's rising power China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, through which USD 5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

Latest News from World News Desk