US reports ‘unsafe’ action by China in Taiwan Strait
WASHINGTON — A Chinese Navy ship maneuvered in an “unsafe manner” near an American destroyer transiting the Taiwan Strait, the US military said Saturday, amid a top security conference attended by defense officials of Beijing as well as Washington and its allies.
This was the second close encounter between American and Chinese military assets in less than 10 days, following what the US military said was an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” by one of Beijing’s fighters near one of Washington’s surveillance planes over the South China Sea last week.
The Chinese ship “executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner in the vicinity of Chung-Hoon,” a US destroyer, during the Saturday transit, the US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
Beijing’s ship “overtook Chung-Hoon on their port side and crossed their bow at 150 yards. Chung-Hoon maintained course and slowed to 10 (knots) to avoid a collision,” the statement said.
It then “crossed Chung-Hoon’s bow a second time starboard to port at 2,000 yards (meters) and remained off Chung-Hoon’s port bow,” coming within 150 yards at the closest point, the US military said.
The Chung-Hoon sailed with a Canadian warship in a joint mission through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from China.
The Chinese military said it had monitored the passage, but made no mention of a close encounter.
“The relevant countries are intentionally creating trouble in the Taiwan Strait, deliberately stirring up risks, and maliciously undermining regional peace and stability,” said Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman of China’s Eastern Theater Command.
US warships frequently sail through the strait. The last joint US-Canada passage was in September 2022.
Meanwhile, Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu said on Sunday that conflict with the United States would be an “unbearable disaster,” as his country seeks dialogue over confrontation.
Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security summit, Li said China and the US should seek “common ground and common interests to grow bilateral ties and deepen cooperation.”
“It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the US will be an unbearable disaster for the world,” he also said.
Meeting in Beijing
At a dinner on Friday preceding the summit, Li shook hands with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin. But the two did not have a deeper discussion, which Washington has sought from Beijing.
But on Sunday, a senior US State Department official, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink, arrived in Beijing for meetings this week.
A spokesperson of the US State Department said Kritenbrink will raise human rights issues in China. His arrival coincides with the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown by Chinese troops on demonstrators in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square (see related story on page A7).