News / USA

Pentagon Downplays Near-Collision in South China Sea

FILE - U.S fighter jets on standby at the upper deck of a USS George Washington aircraft carrier while the USS Cowpens passes by, in the South China Sea, 170 nautical miles from Manila, September 2010.
FILE - U.S fighter jets on standby at the upper deck of a USS George Washington aircraft carrier while the USS Cowpens passes by, in the South China Sea, 170 nautical miles from Manila, September 2010.
Luis Ramirez
U.S. Defense Department officials say a December 5 near-collision between U.S. and Chinese warships in the South China Sea was resolved in a routine, professional manner, and they are downplaying reports that the incident raised tensions between the two militaries.

Officials said the near-collision happened December 5, but it was not until several days later - after media had reported it - that they commented on the incident.

U.S. Defense Department spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters the incident did not trigger a crisis.

“I don't think it was a crisis-level incident by any stretch.  I think this was ships at sea operating the way ships at sea operate," he said. "I don't believe tensions have heightened. I will tell you we have not changed any procedures since the incident.  I think we believe collectively this was resolved professionally."

U.S. officials say a Chinese ship cut across the path of the USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, during operations in the South China Sea.  The Chinese vessel was accompanying the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, which reports said the U.S. ship had been observing.

U.S. officials say their cruiser was operating in international waters, and say good communication between the U.S. and Chinese ships averted an accident.  

The near-collision happened as tensions remain high between the U.S. and China while Beijing asserts its naval power and territorial claims in the region.

U.S. officials are responding cautiously because the potential for miscalculation is significant, and past incidents have led to violence.  Defense analyst Tim Brown at globalsecurity.org recalls the 2001 mid-air collision of a U.S. surveillance aircraft and a Chinese fighter jet over Hainan island that sparked attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

“This has not risen to that level, but it reflects a growing willingness by the Chinese to engage in potentially reckless behavior,” he said.  

The near-miss at sea was much like ones often seen during the Cold War between U.S. and Soviet vessels.  Brown says one major difference is that the U.S. and the Soviets had an understanding in which they pledged not to allow such incidents to escalate into war.

“To my knowledge, the United States and China do not have such an understanding as of yet,” he said.

Beijing recently unilaterally imposed an air defense zone above parts of the East China Sea where it disputes Japan's sovereignty over a group of islands. China said it would require all aircraft to identify themselves and file flight plans for approval by the Chinese military.  

The U.S., Japan, and others announced they would not comply.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid