Kirby said the Chinese jet made several close passes by the Navy P-8 Poseidon plane, coming within 30 feet of it at one point. He said the Chinese jet did a "barrel roll" maneuver over the top of the Poseidon at one point and also passed across the nose of the Navy plane, exposing the belly of the fighter in a way apparently designed to show that it was armed.
The Chinese insist that whole South China Sea area is their territory. Nobody else agrees, but if China can bully other countries out of the region, it will be Chinese territory.
I'd ask if this is this any way to make us think of China as a partner rather than a foe to be watched closely, except China isn't trying to persuade.
UPDATE: Strategypage has relevant comments:
The growing Chinese aggression in the South China Sea and adjacent waters is based, according to the Chinese, on their interpretations of history. The Chinese claim just about every uninhabited islet and reef in the region, despite older and more substantial (recognized by international agreements) claims by nations that are closer to the disputed areas. China has ordered its scholars to dig up any historical evidence for early Chinese presence on rocks, reefs and uninhabited islands in the South China Sea. What the Chinese historians have come up with is often vague, hearsay or subject to wide interpretation. In effect, China wants to reverse centuries of recent claims and practices to justify its aggression in the South China Sea. This Chinese effort has one major flaw; it ignores the fact that for thousands of year the Chinese imperial government (which lasted until 1910) disregarded seaward expansion or exploration. The current Chinese government has ordered this history rewritten and reinterpreted and has made it clear that all contradictory opinions by foreign scholars are false.
I wouldn't say that the Chinese believe the pen is mightier than the sword. But they sure believe the pen can justify using the sword.
UPDATE: China's use of their "Confucius Institutes" to be arms of Chinese propaganda rather than resources for language and cultural education has gotten blatant enough for American academics to protest.
Ah yes. All your opinions are belong to us.
UPDATE: Back to the dangerous intercept:
China on Saturday called US criticism of an approach by one of its jets to a US Navy patrol plane off the Chinese coast earlier this week "completely groundless" and said its pilot had maintained a safe distance from the US aircraft.
I guess they figured that since they didn't ram our plane, the distance was by definition safe.
No good can come from this type of Chinese behavior. If they keep it up, shots will be fired.