Lieutenant Commander Tim Gorman says the Chinese destroyer approached the USS Decatur in an "unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre" on Sunday near Gaven Reefs. "However, FONOPs challenge excessive maritime claims and demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under worldwide law", Commander Christensen said.
Pence will also accuse the Chinese Communist party of convincing three Latin American nations to sever ties with Taiwan and recognise China in a speech that will likely strain tensions between the United States and China beyond the trade disputes that have dominated Donald Trump's time as president. "We'll sort this out", he said.
But as the United States does not recognize China's sovereignty over the islands on which it has constructed reefs, USA ships do not request permission to pass through those 12-mile limits. Images released by the U.S. Navy appear to show the Chinese warship pulling in front of USS Decatur, which veered off to avoid a crash.
China has taken a series of retaliatory measures, including scrapping a U.S. warship's planned port visit to Hong Kong and cancelling a meeting between the head of the Chinese navy and his American counterpart.
China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea and has built islands on reefs and equipped them with military facilities such as airstrips, radar domes and missile systems.
China's defence ministry did not immediately comment on the report, but a Chinese diplomatic observer said that by expanding its operations from the South China Sea to the Taiwan Strait the U.S. was escalating the confrontation.
U.S. -China military relations have been strained before.
The Chinese warship moves ahead of its United States counterpart after forcing the USA ship to perform a "radical maneuver", Schuster said.
The Chinese government claims the rights to the region and harshly opposes the entry of any foreign ships into the waterway without permission from Beijing.
"The Chinese military will resolutely perform its defense duties and continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard our sovereignty and the regional peace and stability", spokesman Wu Qian said.
Noting that such actions violated established rules, Glaser added the encounter in the South China Sea represented a "different level of interfering" in a USA freedom of navigation operation.
Nonetheless, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is downplaying the rising tensions between the US and China, despite the spate of recent incidents and the cancellation of the U.S.
News of this plan comes on the heels of serious incidents in the East and South China Seas.
Mattis this week acknowledged "tension points" between the US and China, but told reporters he did not "see it getting worse".
By expanding its area of operations to the Taiwan Strait, Su continued, the U.S. was linking the South China Sea and Taiwan and was prepared to confront China across a wider front.
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