US, China, destroyers, Taiwan Strait
The Chinese destroyer overtook the USS Chung-Hoon on its port side and then veered across its bow at a distance of about 137 meters, according to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. (Image: @starsandstripes / Twitter)

Taiwan Strait: Chinese destroyer has a close call with U.S. destroyer

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In an unsafe Chinese manoeuvre in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday (June 3), a Chinese navy ship cut sharply across the path of an American destroyer, forcing the U.S. ship to slow down to avert a collision. The U.S. military released a video on Monday (June 5) of what it called an unsafe maneuver, in which a Chinese navy ship was seen cutting sharply across the path of the American destroyer.

The incident occurred on the weekend as the American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal were conducting the so-called freedom of navigation transit of the strait between Taiwan and mainland China.

During the transit, the Chinese guided-missile destroyer overtook the USS Chung-Hoon on its port side and then veered across its bow at a distance of about 150 yards (137 meters), according to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The American destroyer held its course, but reduced the speed to 10 knots to avoid a collision, the U.S. military said.

The video released by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command shows the Chinese ship cutting across the course of the American destroyer, then straightening out to start sailing in a parallel direction.

The Indo-Pacific Command said that the action violated maritime rules of safe passage in international waters.

The two global superpowers are at loggerheads over Taiwan and the rights of passage in international waters for quite some time.

Also Read: Chinese ships cut internet of Taiwans outlying islands

China considers the democratic self-governing island of Taiwan as part of its own territory and maintains the strait is part of its exclusive economic zone. However, the United States and its allies regularly sail through and fly over the passage to emphasise their contention that the waters are international.

The Chinese destroyer did not attempt a similar maneuver on the Canadian frigate, which was sailing behind the American destroyer.

USS Chung-Hoon and Montreal’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the combined U.S.-Canadian commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. military said. “The U.S. military flies, sails, and operates safely and responsibly anywhere international law allows,” the Indo-Pacific Command added.

The United States recently accused China of performing an unnecessarily aggressive maneuver in the air, saying that a Chinese J-16 fighter jet late last month flew directly in front of the nose of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.

Also Read: Chinese military pushes for wartime legislation amid escalating tension over Taiwan: Report

The close calls have raised concerns of a possible accident that could lead to an escalation between the two militaries at a time when tensions in the region are already high. The incident in the Taiwan Strait came on a day when both U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Li Shangfu were in Singapore for an annual defense conference.

Gen. Li on Sunday (June 4) suggested that the U.S. and its allies have created the danger with their patrols and was intent on provoking China. The best way is for the countries, especially their naval vessels and fighter jets, not to do closing actions around other countries’ territories, he said through an interpreter.

“What’s the point of going there? In China we always say, Mind your own business,” Gen Li said.

Austin had invited Gen. Li to talk on the sidelines of the conference, but in a rebuff to the United States, Li refused to oblige.

(With agency inputs)

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