U.S., Chinese warships nearly collide in South China Sea

AFP-JIJI, Bloomberg

A Chinese naval vessel came dangerously close to a U.S. warship during a tense incident in the South China Sea last week, U.S. military officials said Friday.

The USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, was forced to maneuver to avoid a collision with the Chinese ship, which had crossed directly in front of it and halted, according to naval officers and defense officials.

The amphibious dock ship came less than 500 meters from the American warship, a defense official said.

“This encounter happened in international waters in the South China Sea on Dec. 5,” the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said in an email message.

“Eventually, effective bridge-to-bridge communication occurred between the U.S. and Chinese crews, and both vessels maneuvered to ensure safe passage,” the official said.

The official said the Cowpens had been “in the vicinity” of China’s new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, when the incident occurred.

China was probably angry the Cowpens may have been trying to spy on its only aircraft carrier, said Dean Cheng, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center in Washington.

“This was not an accident,” Cheng said in an interview. “It was deliberate. The Chinese are raising the ante.”

The stand-off ended peacefully but underscored tensions between the United States and China, which escalated after Beijing last month declared an expanded air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.

Last week’s confrontation occurred in the strategic South China Sea, where Beijing has aggressively moved to push for control over territory claimed by other countries in the region.

The U.S. military has repeatedly vowed to keep operating in international waters and airspace, and has increased its presence in Southeast Asia over the past year as a counter-balance to Beijing’s more assertive regional stance.

China has declared an economic exclusion zone in part of the western Pacific, but the United States considers the area to be international waters beyond Beijing’s control.

U.S. military leaders have warned that China’s new air defense zone could aggravate tensions and trigger a dangerous incident.

Washington has refused to recognize the ADIZ and flew a pair of B-52 bombers through the area without notifying Beijing in advance.

The defense official renewed calls for bolstering military relations between the two countries to prevent misunderstandings.

“U.S. leaders have been clear about our commitment to develop a stable and continuous military-to-military relationship with China,” the defense official said.

“Whether it is a tactical at-sea encounter or strategic dialogue, sustained and reliable communication mitigates risk of mishaps, which is in the interest of both the U.S. and China.”

  • jamesobh

    It is surprising that the US is not expecting at least an incident if she continues to provoke a reaction from China, with their presence in South/East China Sea, after she had declared alliance with Japan against China. US’ alliance with Japan can go back to the San Francisco Treaty (SFT) in the 1950s which goes against the Unconditional Surrender Terms of WW2 which Japan agreed to abide by, when the latter lost and surrendered in 1945. The SFT is both null and void as it doesn’t even include China as a signatory. Even India declined the invitation to attend the signing ceremony of the SFT, as she deemed the SFT to be null and void. China had never recognized the SFT nor will she ever.

    Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands belong to China, as evidenced by geography, law and history. Having said that, the SFT
    is totally without legal effect, but merely a political tool, to try to contain China’s Navy within the first islands chain. Consequently, the actions of both the US and Japan against China are hostile, reinforced by the 2013 Defense Authorization Act of the US. The lines between the warring parties of the coming, inevitable WW3, are
    clearly drawn, viz the US and allies vs. Russia and allies. US is advised to take a leaf from the Holy Bible to avoid WW3 at all cost, as is implicitly discovered that the US will not survive WW3, and become insignificant after WW3. Following which, a New World Order will emerge.

    One event is very clear and it is that, China will still be participating in wars after WW3, and in the Last Days, participate as a member of the “kings of the East,” going
    into battle with 200 million troops. However, I cannot say the same for the US and her allies.

  • jamesobh

    Whose law are you referring to? Even the US does not take a position in the sovereignty of the disputed islands.

    China had also made representations in the UN that the disputed islands are situated within her continental shelve. Also, Japan has no guts to bring the issue for adjudication by ICJ.

  • jamesobh

    You have your history knowledge upside down. China has neither recognize Japan’s control over Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, nor the San Francisco Treaty (SFT) signed in the 1950s, between the US and Japan.

    Even Henry Kissinger admitted that the then leaders of China and Japan in the 1970s, had agreed to shelve the dispute over the sovereignty of the islands for future generations to solve. And so, what is so difficult to understand that China had never recognized Japan’s control over the disputed islands. Are you trying to whitewash history? The Unconditional Surrender Terms of WW2, which Japan had agreed to abide by, clearly stated that all territories belonging to China must be returned to China. Why are you trying to hide the truth and speak lies?

    • Casper Steuperaert

      It’s true that Japan had to give back all land belonging to China, but since China only started protesting Senkaku ownership by Japan in the 1960’s, way after WWII. They can hardly be considered Chinese anymore. You’d better stop the whitewashing, forgetting the terra nullius annexation of 1895

      • jamesobh

        Your history knowledge need be upended. China does not recognise the San Francisco Treaty (SFT) that was signed in the 1950s between the US and Japan. China was not even a signatory to the SFT. Even India refused to attend the signing of the SFT, simply because she does not recognise the SFT, and deemed it null and void.

        The Unconditional Surrender Terms of WW2 signed in 1945, which Japan had agreed to abide by, is the only abiding documents, whereby China is also a signatory.

        Henry Kissinger confirmed the fact that the then leaders of China and Japan in the 1970s, had decided to set aside the sovereignty of Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands for future generations to solve, so as to normalise relations. This fact was vehemently denied by Japan, showing clearly that Japan is a liar and is willing to whitewash history, if ever possible. But, it is an undeniable fact that Japan is a defeated foe of WW2, and she was the first nation in the world to be nuked, and that also, by her staunchest ally, the US.

        Evidences had shown that Japan had knew all along that Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands belong to China and she drove out all residents on the islands and claimed that the islands were terra nullius. And so, why are you so easily duped and blinded by the lies of Japan. If the islands had belong to Japan, why then does she need to consult the US to purchase the islands from so-called private owners?

      • Casper Steuperaert

        The islands were never inhabited save for a small Japanese fishing company that didn’t stay very long. And your argument of the SFT is void. China never protest Japanese control of the Senkaku Islands before WWII and before the SFT. The Senkaku’s don’t fall under the SFT and the Unconditional Surrender Terms. China did get control of Taiwan back (which is a bit of a strange case today). Why would Japan consult the US? Because they made to move NOT to anger China. The Japanese governement was afraid Japanese nationalists would buy and use the islands, but we all know China reacted wrong on this matter. China doesn’t even want to talk about the islands. They want the gas and an enemy for the people to occupy themselves with

      • jamesobh

        You are trying to whitewash history.

      • Casper Steuperaert

        So are you