Chinese destroyer 'came dangerously close to US Navy ship'

This Oct. 13 2016 file image shows the USS Decatur operating in the South China Sea.                        Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Quinlan  U.S. Navy

This Oct. 13 2016 file image shows the USS Decatur operating in the South China Sea. Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Quinlan U.S. Navy

China expressed firm opposition to U.S. warship sailing near islands and reefs claimed by it in South China Sea.

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Decatur had to maneuver to avoid a collision on Sunday after a Chinese warship came within 45 yards of its bow as the American ship transited a disputed island chain in the South China Sea on Sunday, U.S. defense officials said.

Beijing said the US had no right to interfere in Chinese military co-operation with Russian Federation.

CNN reported Sunday the USS Decatur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands as part of what the US Navy calls freedom of navigation operations, which are meant to enforce the right of free passage in worldwide waters.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea and bases this claim on a historical policy of the nine dash line from its coast.

According to another USA official, the Chinese warship was initially about 500 yards on the Decatur's port side then moved ahead of the Decatur and cut across the American destroyer's bow. The Paracels, north of the Spratly Islands, are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Over the last week, the US and Chinese military relationship has deteriorated as both countries are engaged in a bitter trade dispute. Parts of the South China Sea are claimed by other South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei. US-Chinese relations have been strained on multiple levels since Donald Trump became president in 2017.

"The Chinese side strongly urges the United States side to immediately correct its mistakes and stop such provocative operations", Hua said, adding that China would take all necessary measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and security. Both the countries have been slapping tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of their exports.

In a statement, the Chinese Ministry of Defense said that its ship had "given a warning to leave" to the vessel after it entered the area "without permission".

"The Chinese military will fulfil its defence duty and continue to take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard the sovereignty and security of the country, as well as the regional peace and stability", he said.

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