A tense encounter unfolded Sunday between US and Chinese vessels in the South China Sea. Per CNN, the American destroyer USS Decatur was aggressively approached by a Chinese warship while conducting what are called freedom of navigation operations in the Spratly Islands. in a statement, Capt. Charles Brown with the US Pacific Fleet said a Chinese Luyang destroyer approached the US vessel in an "unsafe and unprofessional" maneuver. According to CBS News, the Chinese vessel came with 45 yards of the Decatur, a dangerous proximity that forced the Decatur to maneuver away in order to prevent a collision.
The encounter is an extreme example of the recent tense US-China relations in the region. Just last week, China refused a request for the US Navy's amphibious assault ship, the USS Wasp, to dock in Hong Kong next month. In spite of these and other setbacks, including his own canceled state visit to Beijing, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday that US-China relations are not worsening, per the AP. "There's tension points in the relationship, but based on discussions coming out of New York last week and other things that we have coming up, we do not see it getting worse," Mattis told reporters in Paris. "We'll sort this out." Back in the Pacific, Capt. Brown affirmed that US forces will continue to operate "anywhere international law allows." (More South China Sea stories.)