The US military on Monday released video of a close encounter between a Chinese navy ship and a US destroyer in the Taiwan Strait over the weekend.
The United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) reported China’s “dangerous maneuver” on Saturday, but did not release the video footage until early Monday morning, in which a Chinese navy ship can be seen abruptly cutting off the trajectory of the USS Chung-Hoon. . The destroyer had to slow to 10 knots to avoid a collision.
Chung-Hoon and the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal were on a ‘freedom of navigation’ transit of the strait between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland – waters considered international to the United States and its allies, but an ‘exclusive economic zone’ for China.
USINDOPACOM said China’s “actions violated maritime ‘Rules of the Road’ of safe passage in international waters.”
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“Chung-Hoon and Montreal’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the combined commitment of the United States and Canada to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” USINDOPACOM said. “The U.S. military flies, navigates, and operates safely and responsibly wherever international law permits.”
On Saturday, the Chinese missile destroyer passed the Chung-Hoon on her port side and then veered across her bow at a distance of about 150 meters, according to USINDOPACOM. The Chinese vessel then righted itself and began to sail in a parallel direction.
HMCS Montreal Commanding Officer Paul Mountford called the decision “unprofessional”, adding that it was “clearly at the instigation of the Chinese”, according to Global News.
“The fact that it was announced on the radio before it was done clearly indicates that it was intentional,” he said. “I hope this is an isolated incident that will not happen again for us, because we have international law on our side. These are international waters.”
A similar maneuver was not attempted on the Canadian warship, which sailed behind the Chung-Hoon.
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin defended the move, saying it was undertaken “according to law”.
“China’s military actions are totally justified, legal, safe and professional,” he told reporters in Beijing. “It is the United States that should reflect deeply on itself and correct the wrongdoings.”
Saturday’s incident marked the second time the United States has accused China of being “unnecessarily aggressive” in the past week after a Chinese J-16 fighter jet flew directly in front of China’s nose. a US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea on Tuesday.
At a time when tensions in the region are running high, the close calls have raised fears that a possible mishap could lead to an escalation between the two countries.
The Chinese have also ignored Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by deploying a research vessel as well as five escort vessels last month to an area where a Russian state-owned company jointly operates a gas block with Hanoi in the sea. of energy-rich southern China.
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The near miss in the Taiwan Strait came on the same day as an annual defense conference in Singapore attended by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Minister General Li Shangfu.
Li suggested that the United States and its allies created danger with the patrols, accusing them of intending to provoke China.
“The best way is for countries, especially warships and warplanes of countries, not to do closing actions around other countries’ territories,” he said through of an interpreter. “What’s the point of going there? In China, they always say, ‘Mind your own business.'”
Austin had invited Li to speak on the sidelines of the conference, according to the Associated Press, but Li declined.
Fox News Digital’s Brie Stimson, Liz Friden and Associated Press contributed to this report.