South China Sea: Chinese ship forces United States destroyer off course

The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur returns to its homeport Naval Base San Diego after completing a seven-month deployment Nov. 14 2016

This US Navy photo obtained October 21, 2016 shows the USS Decatur (DDG 73) as it operates in the South China Sea as part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) on October 13, 2016.

A Chinese destroyer came aggressively close to a US Navy ship in the South China Sea, forcing it to manoeuvre to prevent a collision.

China has taken a series of retaliatory measures, including scrapping a USA warship's planned port visit to Hong Kong and canceling a meeting between the head of the Chinese navy and his American counterpart.

Worldwide law permits foreign warships to transit a country's territorial waters on the basis of innocent passage without seeking prior permission, and the Chinese Navy has exercised that right off Alaska, among other locations.

The UK Royal Navy amphibious assault ship HMS Albion challenged China's excessive claims to the contested waterway by sailing near the Paracel Islands.

During a routine surveillance mission near the Chinese coast, a US Navy EP-3E Aries II spy plane collided with a Chinese F-8 fighter jet that was closely tailing it.

The news comes as US-China tensions continue to grow, with US President Donald Trump saying Chinese leader Xi Jinping "may not be a friend of mine anymore".

The Chinese navy's actions forced the Decatur to manoeuvre to avoid a collision, a spokesman for the Pacific Fleet, Capt. Charlie Brown, said in a statement.

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The USS Decatur, a guided-missile destroyer, was conducting a freedom of navigation operation in in the South China Sea, a USA defense official told Fox News in a statement. Twelve nautical miles is the commonly accepted limit for territorial waters.

China's defence ministry said the Chinese vessel was conducting "normal patrols" when the two vessels "met", adding that the countries' defence departments "carried out effective communication".

Chinese vessels have approached U.S. Navy ships during previous FONOPs in the South China Sea, but Sunday's encounter appears to the be the closest one yet.

Beijing said the US had no right to interfere in Chinese military co-operation with Russian Federation.

"Our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows", he said.

US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress heavy long-range bombers flew through both the East and South China Sea last week. Beijing, in turn, urged Washington to either reconsider the move or prepare to bear "consequences".

The Chinese ship "conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for Decatur to depart the area", Gorman said.

Though U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis played down recent disputes with China, a senior defense official told Fox News on Monday that Mattis would not be going to China, as had been previously planned. "Intra- and extra-regional powers, including the U.S., Japan, India and others, want to strongly signal to China that their outright rejection of global law and assertive behavior in the South and East China seas will not go unchallenged by the worldwide community".

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