'Aggressive' Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of US warship

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The Chinese military on Tuesday voiced firm opposition to a US Navy warship's entry into waters around China's islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

A U.S. Navy ship had to maneuver "to prevent a collision" with a Chinese warship while the USS Decatur was conducting a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea. The behavior "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".

The Chinese ship then conducted a series of "increasingly aggressive maneuvers, and warned the Decatur to depart the area", he added. China claims almost all of the South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam all claim parts of it.

CNN reported Sunday the USS Decatur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands as part of what the US Navy calls freedom of navigation operations, which are meant to enforce the right of free passage in global waters.

It confirmed that the Luoyang, a Chinese missile destroyer, was immediately deployed to identify the United States warship and drive it away.

Apart from China, Vietnam also lay claim on the Spratly Islands.

China expressed anger on Tuesday after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea, saying it resolutely opposed an operation that it called a threat to its sovereignty.

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The ministry said China has irrefutable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the waters around them, and the situation there is progressing well thanks to the hard work of China and countries in Southeast Asia.

The US has been sending periodic air and naval expeditions to assert its right of the freedom of the navigation in the SCS. US-Chinese relations have been strained on multiple levels since Donald Trump became president in 2017. China routinely objects the U.S. presence to register its claims.

She said that such U.S. moves are against the common will of countries in the region and the basic global norms, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

The Chinese foreign ministry said it strongly urged the U.S.to stop its "provocative" actions.

The unsafe and aggressive manoeuvres by the USA and Chinese ships took place amid the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The Chinese military too voiced its opposition to the USA ship sailing through the area.

The Chinese armed forces will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the country's sovereignty and security, the ministry said.

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