The Ministry of National Defense yesterday urged the Chinese Communist Party to avoid provocative behavior after a Chinese navy ship crossed the paths of a US destroyer and Canadian frigate transiting the Taiwan Strait.
A Chinese ship on Saturday “executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner in the vicinity of [the USS] Chung-Hoon,” an American destroyer, the US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
The vessel “overtook Chung-Hoon on their port side and crossed their bow at 150 yards [137m]. Chung-Hoon maintained course and slowed to 10 [knots, 18.5kph] to avoid a collision,” the statement said.
Photo: AFP / US Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Devin M. Langer
It then “crossed Chung-Hoon’s bow a second time starboard to port at 2,000 yards and remained off Chung-Hoon’s port bow,” coming within 150 yards at the closest point, the US military said, adding that the “US military flies, sails and operates safely and responsibly anywhere international law allows.”
The Chung-Hoon was sailing through the Strait with the Canadian warship the HMCS Montreal in a joint mission.
In Taipei, the defense ministry said it was aware of the incident and dispatched naval and air force assets to monitor the situation.
“Maintaining the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the region is the joint responsibility of democracies worldwide,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Any move that could escalate tension and danger will not contribute to regional safety. We call on the CCP to respect the freedom of navigation and avoid any excessively provocative behaviors,” it added.
In Singapore, Chinese Minister of National Defense Li Shangfu (李尚福) defended sailing the warship across the path of the US and Canadian vessels, telling a gathering of some of the world’s top defense officials that such so-called “freedom of navigation” patrols are a provocation to China.
In his first international public address since becoming defense minister in March, Li told the Shangri-La Dialogue that China does not have any problems with “innocent passage,” but that “we must prevent attempts that try to use those freedom of navigation [patrols], that innocent passage, to exercise hegemony of navigation.”
It is the second close encounter between US 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 late last month.
Li said that the US and its allies had created the danger, and should instead focus on taking “good care of your own territorial airspace and waters.”
“The best way is for the countries, especially the naval vessels and fighter jets of countries, not to do closing actions around other countries’ territories,” he said through an interpreter. “What’s the point of going there? In China we always say: ‘Mind your own business.’”
Additional reporting by Shelley Shan
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