ensions have flared yet again in the South China Sea where a Chinese destroyer nearly collided with an American warship while attempting to force the US vessel to leave the disputed area which it claims as its own.
The US Pacific Fleet has accused the Chinese destroyer of making an “unsafe and unprofessional” maneuver which brought it within 41 meters of the US warship, causing the American ship to turn to prevent a collision. The incident occurred on Sunday as the USS Decatur was sailing within 12 nautical miles of reefs in the Spratly Islands.
Like most of the South China Sea, Beijing claims the Spratlys as its own territory, despite competing claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan, and has strengthened these claims by turning some of the reefs into artificial islands, filled with soldiers, tourists, planes, missiles, and veggie gardens.
To show that it does not accept Beijing’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea, the US Navy has been carrying out “freedom of navigation” operations in the important shipping area since 2015, never failing to draw China’s anger and indignation with each incursion.
In this case, the Chinese defense ministry has called the US warship’s actions “provocative” and promised to continue to resolutely protect China’s territorial sovereignty, adding that the Chinese Luyang-class destroyer had acted “in accordance with the law.”