Published: Wed, October 03, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

Chinese warship's 'unsafe' encounter with U.S. vessel

Chinese warship's 'unsafe' encounter with U.S. vessel

The unsafe and aggressive manoeuvres by the United States and Chinese ships took place amid the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

A U.S. navy vessel, the USS Decatur, was sailing "in the vicinity" of Gaven Reef on Sunday, when a Chinese destroyer confronted it with "an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver", said Lieutenant Commander Tim Gorman, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

A Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy Luyang-class destroyer challenged the US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Decatur to a showdown in the South China Sea Sunday during a close pass of Chinese-occupied islands. Such operations need to be within 12 nautical miles of an island or territory to constitute a challenge under worldwide law.

In a boilerplate announcement posted to its website, the ministry blasted the encounter, saying the military was "firmly opposed" to the FONOPs and reiterated Beijing's claim that "China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and its adjacent waters".

"No surprise that the PLA is challenging FONOPs near Spratlys", tweeted Zack Cooper, who studies USA defence strategy in Asia at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

It is now routine for British, Japanese, Australian, and USA ships to sail the area, disregarding incessant warnings and orders from Chinese military officials who call worldwide presence in the region a violation of Chinese sovereignty. "The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of Decatur's bow, after which Decatur maneuvered to prevent a collision".

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Nevertheless, China expanded some land features in the reefs through sand dredging in 2014 and 2015 and then militarized the reefs with anti-aircraft and naval guns and radars.

Freedom of navigation operations are meant to enforce the right of free passage in worldwide waters.

The latest incident in the South China Sea follows a series of diplomatic standoffs between the world powers.

China's defense ministry said Tuesday that it dispatched a naval ship to warn the US vessel to leave, calling the operation a threat to its sovereignty, according to Agence France-Presse.

"The Chinese military will resolutely perform its defence duties and continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard our sovereignty and the regional peace and stability".

China's defence and foreign ministries each released statements Tuesday sharply criticizing the United States, though not disputing details of the US accusations involving the Decatur.

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Washington and Beijing hit each other with the largest round of tariffs yet last week, now covering roughly half their goods traded.

But China claimed its jets monitored the US plane from an acceptable distance, and the Chinese foreign ministry said frequent reconnaissance missions by US Navy vessels' aircraft off the Chinese coast jeopardised China's sea and air safety.

After the incident on September 30, the Chinese government abruptly canceled a high-level security dialogue planned for mid-October in Beijing.

Meanwhile, China has canceled two high-level security meetings with usa defence officials in the past week.

There was no immediate comments from China.

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