US Destroyer and Chinese Warship Nearly Collide in South China Sea

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As was reported over the weekend, the USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer on Sunday conducted the U.S. Navy's latest freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea, coming within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson Reefs claimed by China.

In the past two weeks, the USA and China have canceled several high-level military-to-military meetings meant to defuse tensions.

The move follows a further deterioration of relations between the US and China, though US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said he doesn't see the relationship "getting worse," despite setbacks.

On Sunday, a Chinese destroyer almost collided with the USS Decatur, which was carrying out a freedom of navigation operation and sailing close to the China-claimed Gaven Reef.

Tim Gorman, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in the statement.

Australia has warned Beijing to avoid using "intimidation or aggressive tactics" after a Chinese destroyer challenged a US Navy warship during a tense standoff in the South China Sea.

The incident with the USS Decatur in the South China Sea appears to be the most serious of such incidents in recent weeks, following as it did last week's flights of two B-52s over the sea, the earlier USA sanctions imposed on China's military procurement agency for buying Russian hardware, and the us $330 million arms deal with Taiwan.

U.S. -China military relations have been strained before. It's one of the seven reefs and shoals that China's transformed into man-made island fortresses, seizures rejected by worldwide courts and disputed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan.

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"The US side repeatedly sends military ships without permission into seas close to South China Seas islands, seriously threatening China's sovereignty and security, seriously damaging Sino-US military ties and seriously harming regional peace and stability", the ministry said.

WASHINGTON-Vice President Mike Pence will deliver a stinging rebuke to China in a speech scheduled for Thursday in which he will take aim at what he says are Beijing's attempts to influence USA elections and global politics.

The Chinese government said the United States had no right to interfere in Chinese military cooperation with Russian Federation.

China's Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the United States vessel to leave.

The Defense Ministry insisted the America freedom of navigation patrol "gravely threatens China's sovereignty and security, gravely damages relations between China and the USA and their militaries, and gravely injures regional peace and stability".

And Beijing also opposes a US decision to issue a visa ban and assets freeze on China's Equipment Development Department and its director, Li Shangfu.

Last week, Beijing canceled two high-level security meetings with United States defence officials, and warned of "consequences" towards the USA due to sanctions over Russian military equipment.

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe is due to visit the U.S. later this year but China's Defence Ministry suggested last week that the visit may not happen. "China tensions. But it also appears to reflect a growing willingness by Beijing to test the Americans in the South China Sea", he added.