U.S. says Chinese destroyer came dangerously close to United States ship

This Oct. 13 2016 file image shows the USS Decatur operating in the South China Sea.                        Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Quinlan  U.S. Navy

Gorman said on Tuesday that the Chinese destroyer approached within 41m of the Decatur's bow, forcing it to manoeuver.

A Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy Luyang-class destroyer challenged the US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Decatur to a showdown in the South China Sea Sunday during a close pass of Chinese-occupied islands. China has reclaimed 3,200 of acres of land in the features and built ports, runways and other military infrastructure.

Freedom of navigation operations are meant to enforce the right of free passage in global waters.

The Chinese ship "conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for Decatur to depart the area", Gorman said.

It added: "China's military is resolutely opposed to this".

The U.S. military last sailed a warship within 12 nautical miles of a contested Chinese island in May, the internationally recognized territorial boundary.

It is now routine for British, Japanese, Australian, and US ships to sail the area, disregarding incessant warnings and orders from Chinese military officials who call global presence in the region a violation of Chinese sovereignty.

The US has accused a Chinese naval ship of conducting "unsafe and unprofessional" manoeuvres when one of its warships entered the waters of the disputed South China Sea.

Hua said that with joint efforts of China and the members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the current situation in the SCS has continued to stabilise and get better, while repeated provocative U.S. moves under the pretext of the so-called "freedom of navigation operation" have threatened the peace and stability in the region.

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"The US has repeatedly sent warships into the territorial waters near Chinese reefs and islands in the South China Sea", it said.

The ministry said it strongly urged the United States to stop its "provocative" actions.

US-Chinese relations have been strained on multiple levels since Donald Trump became president in 2017.

A trade war launched by Trump has infuriated Beijing, as did his authorization of a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan, which China considers a rebel province and which it claims as its own.

After the incident on September 30, the Chinese government abruptly canceled a high-level security dialogue planned for mid-October in Beijing.

Washington and Beijing hit each other with the largest round of tariffs yet last week, now covering roughly half their goods traded.

Although the USA takes no position on the competing claims, its navy regularly carries out freedom of navigation operations - known as "FONOPs" - by sending warships and aircraft near disputed waters to demonstrate the right to travel through what it considers global waters and airspace.

China reportedly cancelled the security meeting with Mattis that had been planned for October.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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