Amid trade spat, US-China military tensions soar

Regain de tension militaire entre Washington et Pékin

Days after a United States Navy ship nearly collided with a Chinese warship in the hotly-contested South China Sea, the US Navy's Pacific Fleet is proposing to unveil a global show of force as a stern warning to Beijing.

During a meeting of the UN Security Council, President Donald Trump has accused China of interfering in American elections to help his Democratic rivals.

It approached within 45 yards of the Decatur's bow, forcing it to move, Lt Cmdr Gorman said.

He will also argue that Chinese officials have tried to influence business leaders to condemn U.S. trade actions, "leveraging their desire to maintain their operations in China".

While Beijing did not acknowledge the exact distance its destroyer closed in on its counterpart, or the tactics used to chase it away, both the Foreign Ministry and the DoD slammed the U.S. for the violation and abuse of the "freedom of navigation" principle on the high seas.

While one official reportedly characterized the plans as "just an idea", others indicated that the proposal, which already has an operational name, is being circulated at various levels of the military.

"The US has repeatedly sent warships into the territorial waters near Chinese reefs and islands in the South China Sea", it said.

Beijing confirmed that the Luoyang, a Chinese missile destroyer, was immediately deployed to identify the U.S. warship and drive it away.

The US takes no official position on the competing claims by countries for territories located in the South China Sea.

The Chinese defense ministry denounced the flyovers as "provocative" actions.

Mattis characterized China's militarization in the South China Sea as being for "intimidation and coercion".

The Americans reported the Chinese ship conducted a series of "aggressive" manoeuvres while warning the Decatur to get out of the area.

That might sound safe, but experts say it is way too close for comfort, and probably the closest call between the two militaries in many years.

Washington last week enacted new tariffs against China covering another $200 billion of its imports.

But ties have worsened in recent weeks with a United States decision to issue economic sanctions over the purchase of Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missile equipment.

"Australia has consistently expressed concern over ongoing militarisation of the South China Sea and we continue to urge all claimants to refrain from unilateral actions that would increase tension in the region".

Beijing, Oct 4 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit China on October 8 to hold talks with top Chinese leaders amid escalating tension between the world's two largest economies over trade and Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea. China has ignored the ruling, however, and the fortification of seven artificial islands it has built there has made Chinese control of those waters virtually a fait accompli.

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