A CHINESE WARSHIP nearly collided with a US destroyer in an “unsafe and unprofessional encounter”, forcing the US vessel to change course in the contested waters of the South China Sea, a US official has said.
The USS Decatur was sailing past the Gaven and Johnson reefs in the disputed Spratly Islands, which China has laid claim to, when tensions mounted.
It was the latest attempt to counter what the US sees as China’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the disputed territory.
Tensions have been growing between Beijng and Washington over the so-called trade war with Donald Trump and the American sail-by sparked outrage in China.
The Chinese warship’s “unsafe” manoeuvre almost caused a collision, according to a US official.
US Pacific Fleet spokesperson Commander Nate Christensen said the China's vessel conducted “increasingly aggressive manoeuvres” that brought it “within 45 yards of Decatur’s bow, after which Decatur manoeuvred to prevent collision”.
China’s Defence Ministry rejected the US' claims on Tuesday and said it simply dispatched a naval ship to warn the US destroyer to leave.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, but Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it.