Chinese South China Sea

December 16, 2013 by  

Chinese South China Sea, Increased tensions between the U.S. and China almost led to disaster last week after a U.S. ship nearly collided with a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea.

Officials say the USS Cowpens was operating in international waters near China’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, on Dec. 5. The Cowpens was forced to take evasive action after a Chinese ship escorting the Liaoning cut across the U.S. vessel’s path. (Via Al Jazeera)

The two ships exchanged bridge-to-bridge contact in what one defense official characterized as a “tense but professional” communication, and the vessels went their separate ways without incident. In a formal statement, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said the near miss “underscores the need to ensure the highest standard of professional seamanship … to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap.” (Via The New York Times)

The close call comes during a rough patch in U.S.-China relations. China’s recent attempt to establish an air-defense zone over contested territory in the East China Sea sparked protests and challenges from the U.S. and its allies in the region. (Via CCTV)

Now, analysts are scrambling to interpret this latest incident. One U.S. naval official told Stars and Stripes it’s unclear what the Chinese ship was trying to accomplish by confronting the Cowpens.

“I mean, from my perspective, having him stop in the middle of the South China Sea is kind of dumb. … . But ‘stop’ doesn’t really do anything because all that does is just maintain the status quo.​”

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