South China Sea: Chinese ship forces USA destroyer off course

Source US Navy

"At approximately 8:30 local time on September 30, a PRC Luyang destroyer approached USS DECATUR in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef 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 encounter occurred at a significantly closer distance than one of the last major incidents reported between the two navies.

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

This is not the first time the militaries of the world's two biggest economies have had close encounters.

The heightening military and diplomatic tensions comes as trade negotiations between the two nations are at an impasse.

The Chinese jets came within 45 metres (150 feet) of the American plane, with one of the Su-30s flying inverted, or upside down, directly above it.

The U.S. had placed sanctions in 2017 on that exporter, Rosoboronexport, in response to Russia's interference in America's 2016 presidential election.

The Chinese Defence ministry said Tuesday it opposes the US warship's entry into the waters "around China's islands and reefs". The operation was conducted to "uphold the rights and freedoms of all states under global law". Chinese officials rescinded the invitation, the US official said.

A US guided missile cruiser operating in global waters in the South China Sea was forced to take evasive action to avoid colliding with a Chinese warship manoeuvring nearby, said the US Pacific Fleet.




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

If markets have been blissfully ignorant of potential fallout from the simmering US-China trade dispute (even if corporate executives are bracing for the worst), just imagine how they would react to the reality of a military confrontation.

The Chinese Defense Ministry said Tuesday that one of its naval vessels had warned away the USA ship. "From now on, [China] must fly even closer to USA surveillance aircraft".

Hua said that with joint efforts of China and the members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the current situation in the SCS has continued to stabilise and get better, while repeated provocative United States moves under the pretext of the so-called "freedom of navigation operation" have threatened the peace and stability in the region.

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

The incident sent China-US relations to a historic low and the Beijing government demanded that Washington apologise.

Tuesday's statement, unusual in clearly announcing the run-in with the Chinese vessel, reaffirmed that the USA would not halt its operations in the area.

US media outlets reported a statement from the US Defense Department describing "increasingly aggressive" maneuvers conducted by a China ship which engaged in a literal game of chicken with a US ship.

"Our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows", he said.

Beijing has tried to turn reefs and rocks in the area into artificial islands in order to claim them, the Washington Post reports.

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