WASHINGTON: A Chinese warship came within 150 yards (137 metres) of a US destroyer in the Taiwan Strait in “an unsafe manner,” US military officials said, as China blamed the United States for “deliberately provoking risk” in the region.
US and Canadian navies on Saturday were conducting a joint exercise in the strait, which separates the island of Taiwan and China, when the Chinese ship cut in front of the US guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon forcing it to slow down to avoid a collision, the US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has claimed self-ruled Taiwan as its territory since the defeated Republic of China government fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists. Taiwan’s government says the PRC has never ruled the island and US President Joe Biden has said the US would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.
China’s military rebuked the United States and Canada for “deliberately provoking risk” after the countries’ navies staged a rare joint sailing through the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said the Chung-Hoon and Canada’s Montreal were conducting a “routine” transit of the strait when the Chinese ship cut in front of the American vessel.
The Chinese ship’s “closest point of approach was 150 yards and its actions violated the maritime ‘Rules of the Road’ of safe passage in international waters,” the US command said.
Video footage broadcast by Canadian website Global News showed the close encounter between the ships. The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The maritime encounter was the latest close call between the Chinese and US military. On May 26, a Chinese fighter jet carried out an “unnecessarily aggressive” maneuver near a US military plane over the South China Sea in international airspace, the US Indo-Pacific Command said on Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2023