A Chinese warship sailed within metres of a US destroyer — forcing it to change course — in an "unsafe and unprofessional" encounter as the US vessel was in contested waters in the South China Sea, an official said Monday. The USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer was conducting what the military calls a "freedom of navigation operation" on Sunday, when it passed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the remote Spratly Islands. The 12-mile distance is commonly accepted as constituting the territorial waters of a landmass. China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing claims all of the Spratlys and has built a number of military installations on the islands. During the operation, a Chinese Luyang destroyer approached the USS Decatur in "an unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea," US Pacific Fleet spokesperson Commander Nate Ch...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now