Navy ship built at Bath Iron Works almost struck by Chinese warship

‘Maneuvered to prevent collision’: Chinese destroyer chases USS Decatur in South China Sea

‘Maneuvered to prevent collision’: Chinese destroyer chases USS Decatur in South China Sea

The Luyang destroyer "approached within 45 yards [41m] of Decatur's bow", Commander Nat Christensen said.

A Chinese destroyer came aggressively close to a U.S. Navy ship in the South China Sea, forcing it to maneuver to prevent a collision, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Tuesday, Oct. 2.

The behavior "gravely threatens China's sovereignty and security, gravely damages relations between China and the USA and their militaries, and gravely injures regional peace and stability".

Beijing claims all of the Spratlys and has built a number of military installations on the islands.

Freedom of navigation operations are meant to enforce the right of free passage in worldwide waters.

Nevertheless, China expanded some land features in the reefs through sand dredging in 2014 and 2015 and then militarized the reefs with anti-aircraft and naval guns and radars.

In response, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Tuesday: "The US has been repeatedly sending warships to the islands and the adjacent waters in the South China Sea, which has seriously threatened China's sovereignty and safety".

The Chinese defence ministry said it opposes the U.S. 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 worldwide law.

Beijing claims all of the remote island chain amid its vast territorial assertions throughout the South China Sea.

During a routine surveillance mission near the Chinese coast, a US Navy EP-3E Aries II spy plane collided with a Chinese F-8 fighter jet that was closely tailing it.

The incident would have contravened the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea that was agreed to by China, the USA and other countries in 2014, said Collin Koh Swee Lean, research fellow at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

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

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.

Washington last week enacted new tariffs against China covering another $200 billion of its imports.

Though U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis played down recent disputes with China, a senior defense official told Fox News on Monday that Mattis would not be going to China, as had been previously planned. The showcase of US air power coincided with the integrated Defense of the Amphibious Task Force (DATF) drill held by the US Navy in the South China Sea on September 27.

China has canceled two high-level security meetings with United States defense officials in the past week as tensions between the United States and China rise.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe is due to visit the United States later this year but China's Defence Ministry suggested last week that may not happen.

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