Netherlands criticizes Chinese aircraft's unsafe approach in East China Sea

The Dutch defense ministry has accused China of creating a "potentially unsafe situation" as Chinese military aircraft approached a Dutch naval ship and its helicopter in the East China Sea.

The ministry says two Chinese fighter jets circled a Dutch frigate several times on Friday, when the ship was conducting patrols in the sea in support of UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea.

The ministry also says the frigate's maritime combat helicopter was approached by two Chinese fighter jets and a Chinese helicopter during a patrol.

It says the incident took place in international airspace.

China's defense ministry published a comment on this incident on Tuesday. It said it issued verbal warnings and used its fighter jets to eliminate provocative acts that it said violated China's sovereignty.

The ministry said this was a completely legal and reasonable action. It also argued that "the Netherlands, in the false claim of implementing a UN mission, was flaunting military strength" in Chinese territorial sea and airspace, and creating tensions.

Similar incidents have happened frequently in waters around China. In May, the Australian military announced that its helicopter had "an unsafe and unprofessional interaction" with a Chinese fighter aircraft. Then China hit back, leading to exchanges of criticism between the two sides.

Concerns are mounting over possible accidental clashes.