The Chinese government confirmed a near run-in with the United States in the South China Sea earlier this month.
The U.S. military said that on Dec. 5 the USS Cowpens had to maneuver to avoid a Chinese ship.
“Relations between the Chinese and U.S. militaries enjoy excellent prospects for development, and both sides are willing to boost communication, coordinate closely, and work to maintain regional peace and stability,” China’s Defense Ministry said, in a statement, noting that the two ships met.
It is the first time the Chinese government has officially commented on the issue, the Associated Press reports.
Earlier this week, The Global Times, a newspaper backed by China’s Communist Party, said the U.S. ship came within the Chinese squadron’s “inner defense layer” — approximately 30 miles. And Xinhua, the Chinese government’s official news agency, reported “the U.S. warship … intentionally carried on with its surveillance of China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier and triggered the confrontation.”
The incident comes as tensions in the region have increased over China’s new air-defense zone. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said if U.S. and South Korean officials “really care about this region’s peace, they should … stop fomenting trouble,” Reuters reports.