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US ‘plays innocent’ after near collision at sea

By Qiu Yongzheng and Yang He Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-16 1:38:02

A Chinese military expert has criticized the US government as playing innocent after a US guided missile cruiser that has been getting too close to a Chinese navy drill in the South China Sea nearly collided with a Chinese warship.

The incident came on December 5 as the USS Cowpens was operating near China's aircraft carrier, Liaoning, and at a time of heightened tensions following China's declaration of Air Defense Identification Zone farther north in the East China Sea, the US Pacific Fleet said in a statement on Friday.

The US said its cruiser was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision with the Chinese navy ship maneuvering nearby.

"Eventually, effective bridge-to-bridge communication occurred between the US and Chinese crews, and both vessels maneuvered to ensure safe passage," said a US official anonymously.

The near miss was the most significant Sino-US maritime incident in the South China Sea since 2009.

The US government has protested with the Chinese side through diplomatic and military channels, reports said.

"Bad guys always claim innocence first," a Chinese source that was familiar with this confrontation, told the Global Times on Sunday, adding that the American missile cruiser had entered within 45 kilometers of the inner defense layer of the Chinese fleet that day.

"The USS Cowpens was tailing after and harassing the Liaoning formation. It took offensive actions at first towards the Liaoning formation on the day of the confrontation," said the source.

Using the excuse of cruising on international waters, the US navy has  long been scouting around Chinese waters, chinanews.com reported.

The Cowpens is a frequent visitor to the West Pacific and South China Sea.

It has conducted joint military drills with Japanese and Korean navies several times in this region.

Highly sensitive intelligent work has also been conducted by the Cowpens in the South China Sea area, in the name of escort operations through Malacca or the free passage of the South China Sea, while the targets have always been Chinese waters and its submarines, the source told the Global Times.

Agencies contributed to this story

Posted in: Military