The United States is accusing the China of using high-powered military lasers to target USA military aircraft flying in and out of Djibouti, the tiny Horn of Africa nation that houses military bases from both countries.
Zhou Chenming, a Beijing-based military analyst, noted that the USA and Chinese military bases in Djibouti were so close to one another that it would be easy for disturbances to arise. Chinese state media outlets have accused USA officials of "cooking up phony laser stories".
"This activity poses a true threat to our airmen", White said, later saying that the incidents had grown increasingly serious over the last few weeks. "We expressed the official position of the Chinese government, and also addressed a demand to the Chinese side to investigate these incidents", said the Pentagon.
The US now says there have been at least 10 instances of Chinese personnel using lasers to harass US pilots coming into land at its base, in one case causing eye injuries to two pilots of a cargo plane. The intent was unclear.
Crew members on a C-130 suffered two minor eye injuries in one of the incidents.
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This photo taken on August 1, 2017 shows Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel attending the opening ceremony of China's new military base in Djibouti.
Former U.S. Air Force Pacific commander and research analyst Trey Meeks, though, said China's actions could be viewed as "harassment".
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had informed the United States that: "After strict verification, we have told the USA side that what they alleged is absolutely untrue. The Chinese side consistently strictly abides by worldwide law and laws of the local country, and is committed to protecting regional security and stability".
"These incidents are not surprising as they represent an act just short of war, but indicate gross, intentional negligence, as well as complete disregard for aviation safety and global norms", said Trey Meeks, a principal at the Asia Group research firm and a former Air Force colonel assigned to U.S. Pacific Command.
China and Russian Federation have also recently forged a military partnership, which China's defense minister said was to "let the Americans know about the close ties between the armed forces of China and Russian Federation".