BEIJING – A U.S. warship that was forced to maneuver to avoid a collision with a Chinese naval vessel had “posed a threat,” state-run media said Monday, after Washington accused China of being the aggressor.
The Global Times newspaper, which often takes a nationalistic stance, said the guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens had “come to China’s threshold and posed a threat to China’s military security.”
Washington issued a formal protest after the incident in the South China Sea between the Cowpens and a Chinese navy vessel on Dec. 5, insisting the ships were in international waters.
Beijing claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, even areas close to the coasts of other littoral states.
“If the American navy and air force always encroach near China’s doorstep, ‘confrontation’ is bound to take place,” the Global Times said. “As China’s strength grows, the U.S. should learn to communicate with and respect China if it doesn’t want a collision on the sea or in the air.”
The standoff underscored tensions that escalated after Beijing last month declared an expanded “air defense identification zone” in the East China Sea.
U.S. naval officers and defense officials said last week that the Chinese ship had crossed directly in front of the Cowpens and halted less than 500 meters away, forcing the American ship to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
The Global Times quoted an anonymous Chinese military expert as saying the U.S. “was tailing after and harassing” China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was conducting drills in the area, and that the USS Cowpens had come within 45 km of the “inner defense layer of the Chinese fleet.”