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.
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.
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.