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The tension over the South China Sea was recorded by a CNN crew. The CNN TV crew was flying in a US Navy jet when a Chinese fighter jet appeared right next to them, a few meters away.

The US Navy reconnaissance aircraft was flying at 21,500 feet over the South China Sea, 30 miles from the disputed Paracel Islands, a group of about 130 small atolls, the largest of which are home to Chinese military bases.

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At that moment a voice is heard saying that it is coming from a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) airfield. “American aircraft. Chinese airspace is 12 nautical miles. You don’t get any closer or you take all the blame,” he says.

Within minutes, a Chinese fighter jet armed with air-to-air missiles intercepts the American plane.

Watch the shocking report:

The Chinese fighter jet was so close, the CNN crew could see the pilots turn their heads to look at them – and could make out the red star on its tail fins and the missiles it was armed with.

Lt. Nikki Slaughter, the pilot of the US plane, salutes the PLA two-seat, twin-engine aircraft. “PLA fighter jet, this is the US Navy P-8A… I have you on my left wing and intend to advance westward. I ask you to do the same.”

There was no response from the Chinese fighter jet, which escorted the US plane for 15 minutes before moving away.

For the CNN crew on the US aircraft, it’s stark evidence of tensions in the South China Sea and between the US and China.

The US Navy mission commander takes a different view. “I’d say it’s just another Friday afternoon in the South China Sea,” he said.