A Chinese warship has nearly collided with an American destroyer in the Taiwan Strait.
The incident occurred when the Chinese vessel claimed that the USS Chung-Hoon, an Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer, and the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal were sailing in Chinese waters (the Canadian Navy denies this).
The destroyer was in the Taiwan Strait along with HMCS Montreal, having sailed through the South China Sea for the previous week. Reporters for Global News, a Canadian newspaper, captured footage of the incident. According to Global News, the Chinese ship approached the other two vessels and began to accelerate.
HMCS Montreal Captain Paul Mountford said the People’s Liberation Army ship radioed the USS Chung-Hoon, telling her to move to avoid a collision. The American ship called for the Chinese to move, but the USS Chung-Hoon finally changed her course, missing the other ship by only 150 meters.
“The fact that it was announced on the radio before doing it clearly indicates that it was intentional,” Mountfourd told the newspaper, adding that the move was “unprofessional.”
Global News also reported that Chinese ships had followed the two Western vessels over the past week. The Chinese vessels did not attempt to sail close to the Canadian frigate.
The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, to which the USS Chung-Hoon belongs, has yet to comment on the incident.
Today, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, stating that the United States will not allow “coercion and intimidation” in the region, specifically with regard to Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory. The annual summit focuses on diplomacy and defense, with officials from across the Pacific region.
The incident in the Taiwan Straits comes a week after a Chinese fighter struck a US Air Force RC-135 surveillance plane in international skies. The near miss occurred on May 26, although the Air Force did not announce it until Monday, May 29.
The US and China have slowly begun to resume contacts at higher levels, following cancellations and tensions sparked by a Chinese spy balloon that flew over the continental United States earlier this year. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is expected to visit China this year.
Austin has insisted on the need for communication between the two armies, stating that it is essential to prevent incidents or “miscalculations” from leading to a larger conflict. Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, shook hands at the Shangri-La Dialogue, after China rejected a meeting proposal. The two defense ministers were not expected to interact in Singapore. Austin had criticized China for turning down the offer to meet.
“To be clear, we are not looking for conflict or confrontation,” Austin said today at the conference. “But we will not back down from intimidation or coercion.”