US Indo-Pacific Command accused a Chinese warship of acting in an “unsafe manner” when it passed a US Navy guided-missile destroyer that was transiting the Taiwan Strait with a Canadian frigate on Saturday.
The command said in a statement that the Chinese warship overtook the USS Chung-Hoon in the Taiwan Strait and passed within 150 yards of its bow. The statement said the Chung-Hoon had to slow its speed to 10 knots (nautical miles per hour).
The US military frames its Taiwan Strait transits as “routine,” but Beijing views them as provocations. In recent years, the US has increased its military activity around Taiwan and in the South China Sea, ignoring Beijing’s warnings.
Part of the US strategy has been getting Western allies to increase their presence in the region as well, although joint patrols with Canada are rare. Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand spoke at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday and said that Canada will “significantly” increase its military presence in the Indo-Pacific.
Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu also spoke in Singapore and reaffirmed that China views US patrols in the region as provocations. Li said China has no issue with “innocent passage” but said that “we must prevent attempts that try to use those freedom of navigation (patrols), that innocent passage, to exercise hegemony of navigation.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin vowed at the same conference that the US would continue military action near China, including naval patrols and surveillance flights. “We won’t be deterred by dangerous operational behavior at sea or in international airspace,” he said.
Last week, the US accused a Chinese warplane of making an “unprofessional intercept” of a US military surveillance plane over the South China Sea. The increase in US military activity in the region raises the risk of an accident between the two militaries, and the low state of US-China relations means such an incident could quickly spiral into a conflict.