Chinese warship's 'unsafe' encounter with USA vessel

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

The U.S. military on October 1 revealed that during the FONOP, China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warship, came within 45 yards (40 meters) of the Decatur, and that the U.S. Navy destroyer had to alter course to avoid colliding with the Chinese vessel. In 2013, the USS Cowpens was forced to take evasive action in order to avoid a collision with a Chinese warship less than 460 meters (500 yards) off its bow while operating in worldwide waters in the South China Sea.

The USS Decatur is one of many us and allied ships that have been sailing the global waters of the South China Sea with increased frequency in order to challenge Beijing's illegal claim to the shoaled waters of the "Nine Dash Line", a sea-lane last controlled by the Chinese over a century ago. The destroyer "approached within 45 yards of Decatur's bow, after which Decatur maneuvered to prevent a collision", he said.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Chinese warship in "unsafe" encounter with US destroyer, amid rising US-China tensions".

Worldwide law permits foreign warships to transit a country's territorial waters on the basis of innocent passage without seeking prior permission, and the Chinese Navy has exercised that right off Alaska, among other locations.

The sea, home to vital shipping lanes, has in recent years become a flashpoint for tensions between China and several regional nations which have overlapping claims over islands and reefs.

BEIJING-The United States and China traded new accusations over naval operations in the South China Sea on Tuesday after warships from each country came perilously close to colliding in the disputed waters.

"U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including in the South China Sea".

"No surprise that the PLA is challenging FONOPs near Spratlys", tweeted Zack Cooper, who studies USA defence strategy in Asia at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Twelve nautical miles is the commonly accepted limit for territorial waters.

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The incident occurred amid a major trade war between the two countries, and about a week after China canceled military talks with the United States.

A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mattis was no longer going to China. "As we have for decades, our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows".

It is now routine for British, Japanese, Australian, and US ships to sail the area, disregarding incessant warnings and orders from Chinese military officials who call global presence in the region a violation of Chinese sovereignty.

Chinese ships often shadow United States vessels during similar operations but at a greater distance. On Wednesday, the U.S. Air Force flew nuclear-capable bombers near China in the East China Sea, which Beijing called "provocative" despite flying in global airspace.

The Chinese ship then conducted a series of 'increasingly aggressive maneuvers, and warned the Decatur to depart the area, ' he added.

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

United States defence secretary Jim Mattis has since dropped plans to visit China in October for talks.

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