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Chinese warship comes within 150 yards of U.S. missile destroyer in Taiwan Strait

Chinese warship passes near U.S. missile destroyer
Video shows Chinese warship coming near U.S. missile destroyer in Taiwan Strait 01:06

A Chinese Navy ship maneuvered in an "unsafe manner" near an American destroyer transiting the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. military said Saturday.

Video taken by Canadian news outlet Global News showed the Chinese warship speeding towards the USS Chung-Hoon. It came within 150 yards of the American destroyer, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.

It is the second close encounter between American and Chinese military assets in less than 10 days, following what the U.S. military said was an "unnecessarily aggressive maneuver" by one of Beijing's fighter's near one of Washington's surveillance planes last week.

The Chinese ship "executed maneuvers in an unsafe manner in the vicinity" of the Chung-Hoon, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) said in a statement.

Beijing's ship "overtook Chung-Hoon on their port side and crossed their bow at 150 yards. Chung-Hoon maintained course and slowed to 10 (knots) to avoid a collision," the statement said.

USS Chung-Hoon conducts transit through Taiwan Strait
Cmdr. Kevin Schaeffer (right), commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, and Lt. William Stimson, during a transit through the Taiwan Strait on June 3, 2023.  U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre T. Richard/U.S. 7th Fleet

It then "crossed Chung-Hoon's bow a second time starboard to port at 2,000 yards (meters) and remained off Chung-Hoon's port bow," coming within 150 yards at the closest point, the U.S. military said, adding that the "U.S. military flies, sails, and operates safely and responsibly anywhere international law allows."

The incident occurred as the Chung-Hoon sailed through the Taiwan Strait with a Canadian warship in a joint mission through the sensitive waterway that separates self-ruled Taiwan from China.

The Chinese military said it had monitored the passage, but made no mention of a close encounter.

"The relevant countries are intentionally creating trouble in the Taiwan Strait, deliberately stirring up risks, and maliciously undermining regional peace and stability," said Senior Colonel Shi Yi, the spokesman of China's Eastern Theatre Command.

U.S. warships frequently sail through the strait. The last joint U.S.-Canada passage was in September 2022.

The incident occurred as U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart, Li Shangfu, participated in a defense summit in Singapore. The U.S. had invited Li to meet Austin on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, but Beijing declined.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing have soared this year over issues including Taiwan and an alleged Chinese spy balloon that was shot down after it traversed the U.S.

On Friday, CBS News learned that CIA Director William Burns traveled secretly to Beijing last month to meet with his Chinese intelligence counterparts.

A U.S. official told CBS News the meeting was designed to emphasize "the importance of maintaining open lines of communication in intelligence channels."

The State Department also said in a statement Saturday that two U.S. officials were traveling to Beijing Sunday to meet with Chinese officials in order to discuss "key issues in the bilateral relationship." They were Daniel J. Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Sarah Beran, National Security Council senior director for China and Taiwan Affairs.

Sunday marks the 34th anniversary of the bloody and ruthless Tiananmen Square massacre, in which Chinese soldiers killed hundreds of protesters. 

The Taiwan Strait ship encounter followed what the U.S. military characterized as a risky maneuver by a Chinese jet that "flew directly in front of and within 400 feet of the nose" of an RC-135 surveillance plane on May 26 over the South China Sea.

Beijing blamed U.S. "provocation," with a foreign ministry spokeswoman saying the U.S.' "long-term and frequent sending of ships and planes to conduct close surveillance on China seriously harms China's national sovereignty and security."

China claims Taiwan as its territory — vowing to take it one day, by force if necessary — and has in recent years ramped up military and political pressure on the island.  

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