A US military aircraft were intercepted by Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea, the Pentagon has said.

The incident took place in international airspace on Tuesday in a further escalation of tensions in the contested area.

The Pentagon said the reconnaissance plane was carrying out a “routine US patrol” when two Chinese fighter jets carried out an “unsafe” intercept.

It comes a week after China scrambled fighter jets as a US Navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

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