Chinese destroyer comes extremely close to US warship in SCS
A Chinese warship sailed within yards of an American destroyer, forcing it to change course, in an "unsafe and unprofessional" encounter as the US vessel was in contested waters in the South China Sea.
The USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer was conducting a "freedom of navigation operation" Sunday when it passed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the remote Spratly Islands.
China claims all of Spratlys, has built military installations
The 12-nautical mile distance constitutes the territorial waters of a landmass. China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, though Taiwan, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam claim parts of it. Beijing claims all of the Spratlys and has built many military installations on the islands.
Chinese warship approached within 45 yards of USS Decatur
After the Chinese Luyang approached the USS Decatur in the vicinity of Gaven Reef, it then conducted a series of "increasingly aggressive maneuvers, and warned the Decatur to depart the area," US Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen said.
The Chinese "destroyer approached within 45 yards of Decatur's bow, after which Decatur maneuvered to prevent a collision."
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Chinese Defense Ministry says it gave warning to US vessel
The Chinese Ministry of Defense said that its ship had "given a warning to leave" to the US vessel after it entered the area "without permission".
"The US has repeatedly sent warships into the territorial waters near Chinese reefs in the South China Sea," it said.
It said the behavior threatens China's sovereignty and security and gravely damages relations between China and the US.
US hitting tariffs continuously on China has strained relations
US-China relations have been strained on multiple levels since Donald Trump became President in 2017. A trade war launched by Trump has infuriated Beijing, as did his authorization of a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which China considers a rebel province.
China took retaliatory measures, cancels meeting with top US officials
Washington last week enacted new tariffs against China covering another $200bn of its imports. China has taken retaliatory measures, including scrapping a US warship's planned port visit to Hong Kong and canceling a meeting between Chinese Navy chief and his American counterpart.
Also, security talks due to take place later this month between Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his Chinese counterpart have been canceled.
South China Sea
US China Relations
Chinese Defense Ministry
Chinese Ministry of Defense