The Navy has released video that shows how closely the Pentagon is tracking China’s military expansion in the region, one day after news emerged that the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a U.S. surveillance plane to leave a contested area of the South China Sea.

The video was taken in a P-8A Poseidon plane, a Boeing 737 aircraft that has been modified to fight submarines and surface ships, and gather intelligence. A member of the Navy points out the construction of a runway and other facilities in the Spratley Islands in the video.

[Chinese warnings to U.S. plane hint of rising stakes over disputed islands]

The plane, which also was carrying a TV crew from CNN, was warned to leave airspace eight times by the Chinese, who have been constructing man-made islands to expand the country’s territorial reach and influence. Beijing claims sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, but that is contested by a number of other nations, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.


A member of the U.S. Navy points out on a video screen how the Chinese are building a runway in the South China Sea. (Screen grab from video released by the U.S. Navy)

The warnings are the latest in a series of encounters between the Chinese and other militaries in the region in the last year. In one case, a Chinese J-11B fighter jet buzzed another P-8A plane last August, drawing a rebuke from officials at the Pentagon.

[What it looks like when a Chinese fighter jet buzzes your plane]

Chinese and U.S. defense officials met late last summer to discuss ways to avoid provocative actions that could lead to the use of military force.