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Experts said a near-miss between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a Chinese warship in the disputed South China Sea earlier this week could have dire implications for American allies and partners operating in the waterway and elsewhere — including Japan — after the U.S. confirmed that photos showing just how close the two vessels came to colliding were “legitimate.”

A U.S. defense official told The Japan Times on Wednesday that the pictures, apparently taken by a U.S. spy plane and published on the gCaptain commercial marine and offshore energy industry website a day earlier, were not released by the U.S. Navy.

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