China’s behavior in a narrowly averted naval collision in the South China Sea was both “unhelpful” and “irresponsible,” US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Thursday, warning against incidents that could escalate US-Chinese tension.
“That action by the Chinese, cutting their ship 100 yards out in front of the [USS] Cowpens, was not a responsible action. It was unhelpful; it was irresponsible,” Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon.
Hagel said the maritime confrontation, the first reported for several years, pointed to the need for clear protocols between the two militaries to avoid a potential clash in the Pacific.
“That’s the kind of thing that’s very incendiary, that could be a trigger or a spark that could set off some eventual miscalculation,” he said.
The two sides needed to work “to have a mechanism to be able to defuse some of these issues as they occur,” Hagel said. “We’re working on it.”
His comments were the first public reaction by a top official at the Pentagon since the incident two weeks ago.
China on Wednesday acknowledged an encounter earlier this month between a Chinese naval vessel and the US warship in the South China Sea.
China said its ship was conducting “normal patrols” when it encountered the US missile cruiser and its official news agency accused the US of deliberate provocative behavior.
However, US officials said the US ship was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
Asked about Hagel’s comments, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said: “For the US and Chinese militaries to maintain a healthy and stable relationship that is beneficial to both countries, both sides must do their best to meet each other half-way.”
The near-collision came after Beijing’s declaration of an air defense identification zone further north, in the East China Sea, ratcheted up tension and drew criticism from Washington, Tokyo and Seoul.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there had been no changes to rules of engagement given to forces in that region in order to prevent run-ins with China.
“What we do constantly though is we remain alert for changes in the environment,” Dempsey said. “There are times that are more sensitive than others and we’re in a heightened period of sensitivity. And you can count on our mariners and airmen to be aware of that.”
China has played down the incident, saying its naval forces followed proper procedures
“During the encounter, the Chinese naval vessel strictly followed protocol and handled [the incident] appropriately,” a statement from the Chinese Defense Ministry said.
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
UPTICK IN NUMBERS: The Taipei deputy mayor said the city has services to assist new immigrants, but has established an office specifically to help those from Hong Kong The Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office today officially opens, where it is to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kongers, after Beijing yesterday passed a controversial national security law for the territory. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed dismay over China’s passage of the law, saying that Beijing has broken its pledge to allow Hong Kong to maintain a high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years following its handover from the UK. “I feel extremely disappointed [about the law’s passage], which means China did not keep its promise to Hong Kong,” Tsai said in Taipei. Beijing’s “broken promise” also
‘BASELESS ACCUSATIONS’: Ker Chien-ming said it was not possible to drop Chen Chu’s nomination, while KMT lawmakers accused their DPP rivals of ‘homicidal behavior’ The Legislative Yuan is to vote on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) nominations for the Control Yuan on July 17 after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators regained access to the legislative chamber yesterday after it was occupied by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for about 19 hours. The Legislative Yuan had been scheduled to meet yesterday morning to discuss its planned extraordinary session, but more than 20 KMT lawmakers on Sunday afternoon broke into the main chamber and occupied the legislative speaker’s podium to protest Tsai’s nomination of former Presidential Office secretary-general Chen Chu (陳菊) to be Control Yuan president. The KMT caucus