Amid trade spat, U.S.-China military tensions soar

Amid trade spat, U.S.-China military tensions soar

Amid trade spat, U.S.-China military tensions soar

Four photos apparently depicting the moment a Chinese destroyer had a close encounter with USS Decatur in the South China Sea have surfaced online, showing the blockbuster "near collision" encounter of the two navies.

The vice president cited a Chinese government document, called "Propaganda and Censorship Notice", which he claimed laid out a strategy aimed at "splitting apart different domestic groups in the United States", much as U.S. intelligence services have unanimously concluded that Russian Federation did in the 2016 elections.

"The confrontation between the destroyer chinese and the USS Decatur was the most serious to date", says AFP Timothy Heath, of the Rand Corporation.

At the center of the tensions is a growing U.S.

The Chinese destroyer was trying to run off the American ship from what China considers its own territory.

The Decatur was apparently involved in such "freedom of navigation" operations when Sunday's incident occurred.

China's defence ministry said one of its ships had been sent to warn the United States vessel to leave and that Beijing had irrefutable sovereignty over the waters.

It confirmed a Chinese missile destroyer was immediately deployed to identify the American vessel and drive it away.

This was stated by the spokesperson for the Chinese Defence Ministry Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang at a regular news briefing.

Mattis characterized China's militarization in the South China Sea as being for "intimidation and coercion".

The U.S. and Chinese militaries in 2014 agreed on a code of conduct for unplanned encounters at sea, aimed at helping the two navies avoid mishaps.

The proposal means United States ships and aircraft will be operating close to Chinese forces and is expected to trigger a strong reaction from Beijing.

Tensions in the region have been elevated for the last few weeks. "There is a real risk of miscalculation", Heath said.

A trade war launched by Trump has infuriated Beijing, as did his authorisation of a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which China considers a rebel province.

Since Trump took office previous year, his administration has escalated pressure on China, most recently with several rounds of tit-for-tat economic trade tariffs on hundreds of billions in goods.

Ties have also worsened in recent weeks with a U.S. decision to impose sanctions on a Chinese military unit over the purchase of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missile equipment.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State, that Pompeo will travel to Beijing on Monday where he "will meet with his Chinese counterparts to discuss bilateral, regional, and global issues". The military exchanges between the two countries, and in particular the stops of their navy in the ports of the two countries, had been suspended after a crash in mid-flight between the us spy plane EP-3 and a chinese fighter in 2001 on the southern coast of china.

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