The United States has accused a Chinese navy ship of carrying out “unsafe” manoeuvres near an American destroyer that transited through the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
The incident on Saturday was the second close encounter between the American and Chinese militaries in the Asia-Pacific region in less than 10 days.
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The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the Chinese ship “executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner in the vicinity of Chung-Hoon”, an American destroyer, during the Saturday transit.
The Chinese ship “overtook Chung-Hoon on their port side and crossed their bow at 150 yards [137 metres]”. The move forced the Chung-Hoon to slow down “to avoid a collision”, the statement said.
The Chinese ship then “crossed Chung-Hoon’s bow a second time starboard to port at 2,000 yards (1,828 metres) and remained off Chung-Hoon’s port bow”, coming within 150 yards at the closest point, the US military said.
The incident occurred as the Chung-Hoon sailed through the Taiwan Strait with a Canadian warship in a rare joint mission through the narrow waterway that separates self-ruled Taiwan from China.
The Chinese military said it monitored the passage but made no mention of a close encounter.
“The countries concerned deliberately create incidents in the Taiwan Strait region, deliberately provoke risks, maliciously undermine regional peace and stability, and send the wrong signal to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces”, it said late on Saturday.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said the two ships sailed in a northerly direction through the strait and that it had observed nothing unusual.
US warships frequently sail through the strait. The last joint US-Canada passage was in September 2022.
China claims Taiwan as its territory – pledging to take it one day, by force if necessary – and has in recent years ramped up military and political pressure on the island.
The Taiwan Strait ship encounter followed what the US military characterised as a risky manoeuvre by a Chinese jet that “flew directly in front of and within 400 feet of the nose” of an RC-135 surveillance plane on May 26 over the South China Sea.
Beijing blamed US “provocation”, with a foreign ministry spokeswoman saying Washington’s “long-term and frequent sending of ships and planes to conduct close surveillance on China seriously harms China’s national sovereignty and security”.