The U.S. Navy published footage late Sunday of a Saturday incident where a Chinese warship skimmed dangerously close to an American destroyer transiting the Taiwan Strait.
Video footage taken from on board the USS Chung-Hoon depicts a Chinese warship darting out in front of the guided-missile destroyer as it conducted a “routine” operation alongside Canada’s HSMC Montreal, coming within 150 yards of the ship’s bow, according to the Navy. The Chung-Hoon held its course after the Chinese ship bore down on the port side but reduced its speed to avoid a collision, sparking accusations Beijing “violated the maritime ‘Rules of the Road’ of safe passage in international waters,” according to the Navy’s Indo-Pacific Command.
The video shows the Chinese ship intercepting the Chung-Hoon from the left side before straightening out just yards in front of the American vessel. A voice can be heard apparently attempting to communicate with command on the Chinese ship about “attempts to limit freedom of navigation,” according to Reuters, although wind interference makes the exact words unclear. (RELATED: Chinese Defense Minister Predicts Result Of War With US)
The Chinese vessel did not attempt a similar maneuver in relation to the Canadian vessel.
“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. Navy said. “The U.S. military flies, sails, and operates safely and responsibly anywhere international law allows.”
Beijing defended the incident, saying its warship acted “in accordance with the law,” according to The Associated Press.
“China’s military actions are completely justified, lawful, safe and professional,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, according to the AP. “It is the U.S. that should deeply reflect upon itself and correct the wrongdoings.”
The U.S. and allies regularly conduct “freedom of navigation” operations through international waters to reinforce freedom of the seas, particularly in areas where a nation claims control that isn’t recognized by the international community, the AP reported. Beijing says its sovereignty extends beyond the strait to encompass the democratically-governed island of Taiwan and opposes U.S. vessels entering the waters unauthorized.
⚡️The US accused China of “unsafe” destroyer maneuver near the American ship. The Chinese ship passed within 150 yards of the American. pic.twitter.com/napepfQBM6
— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) June 4, 2023
In May, the U.S. released footage of a Chinese fighter jet performing what it called an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” by flying directly in front of a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.
The incident occurred as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and China’s defense minister, Li Shangfu, were participating in an annual high-profile defense summit in Singapore, according to the AP. Austin hoped to meet with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the summit, but Beijing abruptly shot down his request just before the summit.
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