The Pentagon says a U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane was forced to take evasive action Sunday over the East China Sea after a Chinese jet flew under it and then abruptly pulled up in front of the American plane.

The dangerous maneuver happened late morning in international airspace between the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea, west of the Korean Peninsula, according to the U.S.

The Americans spy plane was intercepted by two Chinese J-10 fighter jets, said Navy Cap. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

"One of them came underneath it at a high rate of speed, then slowed and pulled up. This caused the EP-3, its TCAS [automatic collision avoidance system] to go off, and it was forced to take evasive action," Davis said.

Chinese planes routinely intercept and escort U.S. planes flying along its coastline, usually without incident.

"I would just say that this was uncharacteristic of the normal safe behavior we see from the Chinese military," Davis said. "There are intercepts that occur in international airspace regularly, and the vast majority of them are conducted in a safe manner. This was the exception, not the norm."