FE Today Logo

US slams China’s navy for ‘unsafe’ actions in Taiwan Strait

China says clash with US would bring ‘unbearable disaster’

June 05, 2023 00:00:00

Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu speaking at an event — AFP

BEIJING, June 04 (BBC/Al Jazeera): The United States (US) has accused the Chinese navy of executing "unsafe" manoeuvres near an American destroyer that transited through the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The incident on Saturday was the second close encounter between the American and Chinese militaries in the Asia Pacific region in less than 10 days.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the Chinese ship "executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner in the vicinity of Chung-Hoon", an American destroyer, during the Saturday transit.

The Chinese ship "overtook Chung-Hoon on their port side and crossed their bow at 150 yards [137 metres]. Chung-Hoon maintained course and slowed to 10 [knots] to avoid a collision", the statement said.

It then "crossed Chung-Hoon's bow a second time starboard to port at 2,000 yards (1,828 metres) and remained off Chung-Hoon's port bow", coming within 150 yards at the closest point, the US military said.

It added that the "US military flies, sails, and operates safely and responsibly anywhere international law allows".

A BBC report adds: China's defence minister has said war with the US would be an "unbearable disaster" for the world in his first major speech since taking on the role.

At a security summit, General Li Shangfu said "some countries" were intensifying an arms race in Asia.

But he said the world was big enough for both China and the US, and the two superpowers should seek common ground.

Earlier the US alleged "unsafe" manoeuvres by a Chinese destroyer near a US warship in the Taiwan strait.

On Saturday the US navy said a Chinese destroyer sailed "in an unsafe manner" near an American warship as it transited the Taiwan Strait with Canadian vessels.

China criticised both countries for "deliberately provoking risk". The US and Canada said they were sailing where international law allows.

Gen Li, who became defence minister in March, accused the US of a "Cold War mentality" and said this was "greatly increasing security risks".

In his speech he said China would not allow naval patrols by the US and its allies to be "a pretext to exercise hegemony of navigation".

Asked about the incident in the Taiwan Strait, he said only that countries from outside the region were raising tensions. He was speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the Asia-Pacific region's only annual security meeting.

Beijing has rejected a US request for direct military talks in protest at sanctions placed on Gen Li by the US in 2018 over weapons purchases from Russia.

At the Singapore summit, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin rebuked China for refusing to hold military discussions.

China accused of hacking key US bases on Guam

The paradise islands caught in the US-China crosshairs

Gen Austin and Gen Li shook hands and briefly spoke at the event's opening dinner on Friday, but there was no substantive exchange, reports say.

One of China's delegates told AFP that the removal of US sanctions on Gen Li was a precondition for talks.

Senior intelligence officials attended a meeting of spy chiefs at the Singapore summit, according to Reuters. Despite the diplomatic spat, a top US state department official has arrived in Beijing for a week of wide-ranging talks.

Relations between Washington and Beijing have been strained in recent years over several issues, including China's claim over Taiwan, and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Share if you like