Beijing's vessel cut in front of an American destroyer, forcing the US ship to slow down in order to avoid a collision
The US Department of Defense has released a video showing a Chinese ship crossing the path of an American destroyer in the Taiwan Strait. The US condemned the maneuver as "unsafe," while Beijing has stood by its right to defend the vital waterway with military power.
Published on Monday, the video shows the Chinese warship sailing across the route of the USS Chung-Hoon at an angle of around 45 degrees, leaving the American vessel to sail through its wake.
The Pentagon said that the Chinese ship crossed 150 yards in front of the Chung-Hoon, forcing the American destroyer to slow to a speed of 10 knots to avoid a collision.
The incident itself took place on Saturday, whilst the Chung-Hoon and a Canadian frigate were conducting a so-called "freedom of navigation" transit. Washington and its allies regularly conduct such sailings to deter Chinese activity in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, but Beijing maintains that the transits cross its exclusive economic zone and are "provocations."
The US considers the Taiwan Strait international waters, while China claims sovereignty over the 170-km wide waterway.
The Pentagon's Indo-Pacific Command described the encounter as "unsafe," and claimed that the Chinese vessel's actions violated the maritime 'Rules of the Road' of safe passage in international waters.
Chinese Defense Minister General Li Shangfu defended the actions of his navy, stating on Sunday that while Beijing is unconcerned about the "innocent passage" of the Taiwan Strait, its military will act to "prevent attempts that try to use the freedom of navigation ... to exercise hegemony of navigation."
The incident came at a time of heightened tensions between the US and China. Relations between both powers have soured since US President Joe Biden pledged last year that he would use military force to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, and Saturday's naval encounter came a week after a Chinese fighter jet flew in front of an American spy plane operating above the South China Sea.
Responsibility for ongoing tensions "lies entirely with the US side," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said last week, after Beijing declined a request by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to meet Li at a security summit in Singapore over the weekend.