BANGKOK (AP) — The US military released video Monday of what it called an “unsafe” Chinese maneuver in the Taiwan Strait over the weekend, in which a Chinese naval vessel sharply cut into the path of a US destroyer, forcing the US vessel to slow down to avoid a collision.
The incident occurred on Saturday while the US destroyer USS Chung Hun and Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal were conducting a so-called “freedom of navigation” transit of the strait between Taiwan and mainland China.
China claims the democratic, autonomous island of Taiwan as part of its territory, and maintains the strait as part of its exclusive economic zone, while the United States and its allies regularly sail through and fly over the pass to underscore their claim that the waters are international.
During Saturday’s transit, the Chinese guided-missile destroyer passed the Chong Hun on its port side, then veered across its bow at a distance of about 150 yards (137 meters), according to the US Indo-Pacific Command. The military said the US destroyer continued on course but reduced its speed to 10 knots “to avoid collision”.
Video released on Monday shows the Chinese ship clipping the US ship’s path, then straightening out to begin sailing in a parallel direction.
The Indo-Pacific Command said these actions violated the maritime rules for safe passage in international waters.
The Chinese ship did not attempt a similar maneuver on the Canadian frigate, which was sailing behind the American destroyer.
“The transit of Chong Hun and Montreal across the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the shared commitment of the United States and Canada to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the Indo-Pacific Command said. “The US military flies, sails, and operates safely and responsibly anywhere international law allows.”
The United States recently accused China of performing an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” in the air, saying that late last month a Chinese J-16 fighter jet flew directly in front of a US Air Force reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea.
The close calls raised fears of a possible incident that could lead to an escalation between the two countries’ militaries at a time when tensions are already running high in the region.
The incident in the Taiwan Strait came on the day that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese Defense Minister General Li Changfu testified. They were in Singapore for the annual defense conference.
Lee noted on Sunday that the United States and its allies created the danger through their patrols, and were intent on provoking China.
Through an interpreter, he said, “The best way is for countries, especially the countries’ naval vessels and combat aircraft, not to close procedures around the territory of other countries.” “What’s the point of going there? In China we always say, ‘Mind your own business.'”
Austin invited Lee to speak on the sidelines of the conference; Reject me.
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