Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

US Vice President to attack China in major speech as ties worsen

The Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur in the South China Sea in 2016 Navy Media Content Operations (N AFP Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana QUINLAN
| 05 October, 2018, 13:44

Lieutenant Commander Tim Gorman says the Chinese destroyer approached the USS Decatur in an "unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre" on Sunday near Gaven Reefs. The operation was conducted to 'uphold the rights and freedoms of all states under worldwide law. In addition to Mr. Trump's criticism last week of Chinese election interference, trade tensions have been escalating between the two countries for months, and disputes have continued over territorial claims in the South China Sea, military cooperation and espionage.

In an official statement, the US Navy said Lanzhou came within 40m of the American vessel during the September 30 incident.

In the sequence of pictures, the USS Decatur, pictured on the left, is seen next to the Chinese Warship that was dispatched by Beijing to chase the U.S. vessel into neutral waters and away from the Gaven Reefs, which are claimed by China. Chinese officials confirmed it sent the Luoyang to drive the USS Decatur away and urged the U.S.to stop its "provocative" actions.

The operation also comes as military ties between the two countries have dived, with China also angered by USA sanctions on China's military for buying Russian arms and by United States support for self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own.

China's defence ministry did not immediately comment on the report, but a Chinese diplomatic observer said that by expanding its operations from the South China Sea to the Taiwan Strait the USA was escalating the confrontation.

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 PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of DECATUR's bow, after which DECATUR maneuvered to prevent a collision.

'It seems to me that this was deliberate and could have been sanctioned by higher levels as part of the retaliatory moves by China in recent times'.


On Monday, Mattis scrapped plans to visit China later this month, a USA defense official said.

In a statement on the incident, the Chinese Ministry of Defense said that its ship had "given a warning to leave" to the vessel after it entered the area 'without permission'.

The behaviour "gravely threatens China's sovereignty and security, gravely damages relations between China and the U.S. and their militaries, and gravely injures regional peace and stability".

Gaven Reef is one of seven Chinese-claimed outposts in the Spratlys Archipelago.

Mattis this week acknowledged "tension points" between the USA and China, but told reporters he did not "see it getting worse".

Sunday's near-collision comes after weeks of friction between Washington and Beijing over a range of issues. The ministry gave no details, but based on previous visits by American secretaries of state, he would be likely to meet with China's foreign minister, senior foreign policy advisers and President Xi Jinping. The South China Sea is claimed by China but remains disputed, while the East China Sea has been declared an air defense identification zone by China.

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