China Confirms Naval Incident, Touts Relationship With U.S.

The statement comes after the official Chinese news agency accused the U.S. military of spying.

The Chinese honor guard marches during the welcome ceremony for U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, at the Defense Ministry in March 22, 2007 Beijing, China.
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Jordain Carney
Dec. 18, 2013, 2:30 a.m.

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.


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