In mid December, the U.S. Pacific Fleet released a statement detailing a close call between a Chinese warship and the USS Cowpens, which was operating near China’s only aircraft carrier, the Laionig, performing a training exercise. The statement said that the U.S. guided missile cruiser was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision before “effective bridge-to-bridge communications occurred”, allowing both vessels to maneuver to ensure safe passage.
Reuters reported that the “near miss” was the most significant U.S.-China maritime incident in the region since 2009, but also described that there has possibly been other incidents about which both sides have kept quiet. In a statement released a few days later, the U.S. State Department described the encounter as not unusual.
Chinese newspapers, however, known for voicing regular support for China’s regional hegemony, accused the American warship of posing a threat to China’s national security. The publicity of this incident adds to the tension of a long list of disputes in the South China Sea where many Asian countries have overlapping territorial claims; the U.S. has been maintaining its right to operate in official international waters.
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