Sunday, 18 November, 2018

US Destroyer and Chinese Warship Nearly Collide in South China Sea

Chinese warship comes within 45 yards of colliding with San Diego-based destroyer 'Aggressive' Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of US warship
Pablo Mccormick | 04 October, 2018, 07:54

In a speech that also takes aim at China's controversial use of huge loans to exert influence in developing countries, Pence will cite a recent near-miss between a USA destroyer and Chinese vessel in the South China Sea as a sign of "reckless harassment" in the region.

The Chinese vessel "conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings" for the US Navy ship to "leave the area", Pacific Fleet said in an official statement Monday.

The USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer was conducting what the military calls a "freedom of navigation operation" on Sunday, when it passed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the remote Spratly Islands.

The US takes no official position on the competing claims by countries for territories located in the South China Sea. The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of DECATUR's bow, after which DECATUR maneuvered to prevent a collision. "As we have for decades, our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows". "FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements".

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China condemned the United States for its operations in the South China Sea, where China is attempting to bolster its claims through increased militarization.

China's defence ministry said a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the USA vessel to leave.

The Decatur was conducting a routine patrol of the region at the time - something the Navy regularly does to ensure freedom of navigation through the contested global waters.

Gaven Reef is located in the Spratly Islands chain in the South China Sea where China claims seven man-made islands as its own. US Navy photos first obtained by the maritime-focused news site gCaptain and confirmed to CNN by three American officials show just how close the Chinese destroyer got to the US ship.

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"With tensions elevated, China seems motivated to risk a possible collision as a means of intimidation".

The latest incident followed a series of US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress long-range bomber flights through the East China and South China seas. The Chinese military has repeatedly issued warnings to US and other foreign aircraft that venture too close to areas they claim in the region, many of which have been armed with air defense systems.

Six countries have competing claims in the South China Sea.

The B-52 flights came on the heels of the Chinese government's demand that the USA cancel a $330 million sale of military equipment to Taiwan and then turned down a request for a port call in Hong Kong by the USS Wasp that had been planned for October.

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In the sequence of pictures, the USS Decatur, pictured on the left, is seen next to the Chinese Warship that was dispatched by Beijing to chase the United States vessel into neutral waters and away from the Gaven Reefs, which are claimed by China.

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