Published: Tue, October 02, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Chinese destroyer nearly hits US Navy ship in South China Sea

Chinese destroyer nearly hits US Navy ship in South China Sea

US Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt Cmdr Tim Gorman said the Chinese warship approached the USS Decatur in an "unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre" on Sunday near Gaven Reefs in the South China Sea.

Gorman said on Tuesday that the Chinese destroyer approached within 41m of the Decatur's bow, forcing it to manoeuver.

The Chinese Defence ministry said Tuesday it opposes the US warship's entry into the waters "around China's islands and reefs". Such operations need to be within 12 nautical miles of an island or territory to constitute a challenge under global law.

Captain Brown accused the Chinese warship of conducting "a series of increasingly aggressive manoeuvre accompanied by warnings for the Decatur to depart the area". China similarly denied a port call in 2016 by the USS John C. Stennis strike group after it had sailed through the South China Sea. -China tensions over a broad range of issues.

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

The Chinese Defense Ministry said Tuesday that one of its naval vessels had warned away the US ship.

It is the second time in six months that the 12-mile zone has been entered by a U.S. ship in the Spratlys, a strategic group of reefs and artificial islands where China is said to have deployed missiles that can hit ships and aircraft.

This photo taken on December 24, 2016 shows the Liaoning, China's only aircraft carrier, sailing during military drills in the Pacific.

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The presence of American ships near the Chinese-claimed archipelago off the coast of the Philippines, Malaysia and southern Vietnam is "seriously threatening China's sovereignty and security" and "seriously undermining the relations between the two countries and the two militaries", Wu added.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it strongly urged the stop its "provocative" actions. Pacific Fleet spokesperson Commander Nate Christensen said.

While the operation was reported by CNN on Sunday, the details about the confrontation only emerged when both sides issued statements on Tuesday.

Last week, the Pentagon said the B-52s had transited over the South China Sea as part of "regularly scheduled operations created to enhance our interoperability with our partners and allies in the region".

China has reportedly cancelled a security meeting later this month with US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

Gorman said that the US would "continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows".

Nagy, who is also a visiting fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs in Tokyo, said that through regularized FONOPs by the US and training exercises by Britain, Japan and France in the region, "like-minded countries are hoping to convince Beijing that their interests are better served through following international law instead of attempting to create facts on the ground through hybrid tactics such as lawfare or island-building".

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