Chinese and US warships have close encounter in South China Sea

World Today

 According to Beijing, a U.S. destroyer, the Decatur, came within the 12 nautical mile territorial limit claimed by China on Sept. 30. The Chinese Defense Ministry said the U.S. did not ask for permission to sail so close and a Chinese naval ship reacted immediately to identify the U.S. ship and warn it off, resolving the situation.

CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

Washington said the Decatur had to maneuver at the last minute to avoid a collision.  The incident occurred off the Nanxun Jiao and Chigua reefs known by the U.S. as the Gaven and Johnson reefs — in the Nansha Island chain, known in the U.S. as the Spratly’s.

While the U.S. maintains it does not take sides in the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, it often sails its ships within the 12 mile nautical territorial limit claimed by China as a signal that Washington does not recognize Chinese sovereignty over the area. Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia also make sovereignty claims in the area.

These so-called Freedom of Navigation operations have been stepped up by Washington in the last few months.

Spokesperson Wu Qian from China’s Ministry of National Defense said Tuesday that

” China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters. However, the US sent vessels to enter the China South Sea without permission, threatening China’s sovereignty and security and harming the two countries’ and militaries’ relationship, as well as the region’s peace and stability.”

The incident came as a planned China-U.S. security dialogue later this month seemed in doubt. China’s foreign ministry said Tuesday in a statement that the U.S. had recently proposed to postpone the dialogue. China and the United States will continue to maintain communication on the second round of China-U.S. diplomatic security dialogue, the statement said.