Chinese destroyer sails extremely close to USA warship

Marsha Scott
October 3, 2018

Military tensions between the US and China have ratcheted up in recent weeks for a number of reasons.

The Pentagon accused the Chinese navy of using "an unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre" when one of its destroyers challenged a US destroyer, the USS Decatur, as it sailed Sunday near one of the disputed islets that China claims in the Spratly archipelago.

During the operation, a Chinese Luyang destroyer approached the USS Decatur in "an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea", US Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen said.

The crash occurred about 80km (50 miles) southeast of the Chinese island of Hainan, in what United States officials described as global waters.

As media reports in recent days have given accounts that the United States is stepping up operations in the South China Sea, Beijing appears to be responding, according to the Pentagon.

The U.S. regularly conducts FONOPS, or freedom of navigation operations, in disputed seas around the world to challenge "excessive" maritime claims. One official said the Chinese destroyer came as close as 41 metres to the American ship.

The Chinese ship "conducted a series of increasingly aggressive manoeuvres", coming within 45 yards of the bow of the Decatur, a guided-missile cruiser on what the Pentagon described as a routine mission in worldwide waters.

"China's military is resolutely opposed to this", it said.

"U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including in the South China Sea", Gordon said.

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Beijing and Washington are locked in a trade war in which they have imposed increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other's imports.

The Chinese armed forces will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the country's sovereignty and security, the ministry said. The operations are meant to enforce the right of free passage in worldwide waters under global law.

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

Also last week, China refused a port of call in Hong Kong to the U.S. Navy ship USS Wasp slated for October and pulled a top admiral from a scheduled meeting with his U.S. Navy counterpart.

Just a few days before the near collision of two destroyers, and just after the US Air Force flew multiple strategic bombers overhead, Chinese warplanes conducted live-fire exercises between the rocky outcrops.

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

China was also angered by US sanctions on its military for buying Russian arms.

Beijing last month refused a USA warship entry to Hong Kong, and its top naval officer canceled a high-level meeting with his US counterpart.

There was no immediate comments from China.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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