A Chinese warship came within 150 yards (137 meters) of a U.S. destroyer in the Taiwan Strait in "an unsafe manner," U.S. military officials said, as China blamed the United States for "deliberately provoking risk" in the region.
U.S. and Canadian navies on Saturday were conducting a joint exercise in the strait, which separates the island of Taiwan and China, when the Chinese ship cut in front of the U.S. guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon forcing it to slow down to avoid a collision, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
The People's Republic of China (PRC) has claimed self-ruled Taiwan as its territory since the defeated Republic of China government fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong's communists. Taiwan's government says the PRC has never ruled the island and U.S. President Joe Biden has said the U.S. would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.
China's military rebuked the United States and Canada for "deliberately provoking risk" after the countries' navies staged a rare joint sailing through the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the Chung-Hoon and Canada's Montreal were conducting a "routine" transit of the strait when the Chinese ship cut in front of the American vessel.
The Chinese ship's "closest point of approach was 150 yards and its actions violated the maritime 'Rules of the Road' of safe passage in international waters," the U.S. command said.
Video footage broadcast by Canadian website Global News showed the close encounter between the ships.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The maritime encounter was the latest close call between the Chinese and U.S. military. On May 26, a Chinese fighter jet carried out an "unnecessarily aggressive" maneuver near a U.S. military plane over the South China Sea in international airspace, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said on Tuesday.
The spokesperson for China's embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, did not comment on the specifics of the jet incident, but said the U.S. had "frequently deployed aircraft and vessels for close-in reconnaissance on China, which poses a serious danger to China’s national security."
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a pre-recorded interview that aired on CNN on Sunday that the U.S. is seeking to maintain the "stable, cross-strait dynamic" between China and Taiwan and avoid a conflict "that would end up cratering the global economy."
The interview for "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on CNN took place on Friday.
Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu told Asia's top security summit on Sunday that conflict with the United States would be an "unbearable disaster" but that his country sought dialogue over confrontation.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Grant McCool)