Navy ship built at Bath Iron Works almost struck by Chinese warship

The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur returns to its homeport Naval Base San Diego after completing a seven-month deployment Nov. 14 2016

The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur returns to its homeport Naval Base San Diego after completing a seven-month deployment Nov. 14 2016

Military tensions between the US and China have been rising as a worsening trade war prompts concern in Beijing over whether President Donald Trump's latest tariffs are part of a broader plan to stop the country from eroding American dominance of the Asia-Pacific region.

Tensions have flared yet again in the South China Sea where a Chinese destroyer almost collided with an American warship while attempting to force the U.S. vessel to leave the disputed area which it claims as its own.

"A (People's Republic of China) Luyang destroyer approached USS Decatur in an unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea", Captain Charles Brown, a spokesman for US Pacific Fleet, told CNN. Such operations need to be within 12 nautical miles of an island or territory to constitute a challenge under global law.

US media outlets reported a statement from the US Defense Department describing "increasingly aggressive" maneuvers conducted by a China ship which engaged in a literal game of chicken with a US ship.

As media reports in recent days have given accounts that the USA is stepping up operations in the South China Sea, Beijing appears to be responding, according to the Pentagon.

Beijing claims all the Spratly chain as its own but Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan have competing claims, while the United States has been conducting "freedom of navigation" exercises in the waters.

China opposed the US warship's entry into the waters around the reefs, the Chinese defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

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

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

In May, Chinese warships warned two US navy ships away from the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea and maneuvered in a "safe, but unprofessional" manner, according to a CBS report.

In response to the sanctions, China summoned the American ambassador and defence attache to deliver a protest, and recalled its navy commander from a us trip.

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

But China perceives the voyages as a provocation.

Washington last week enacted new tariffs against China covering another $200 billion of its imports.

"U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including in the South China Sea".

It also comes as military ties between the two countries have dived since Donald Trump became president in 2017.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday he did not see relations between the United States and China worsening, a day after his trip to China was canceled.

Earlier Monday, reports surfaced that China had called off a security conference with United States officials.

The maritime showdown came about a week after Chinese officials canceled military talks with the United States that were supposed to be held in Beijing in late September.

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