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China was 'irresponsible' in stand-off at sea: US

Published on Dec 20, 2013 4:14 AM
File picture of US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel delivering a keynote address during the Center for Strategic and International Studies' 2013 Global Security Forum last month. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - China acted in an “irresponsible” way in a stand-off with a US naval ship this month in the South China Sea, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday.

US officials have said that the USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with a Chinese vessel that had come dangerously close in the December 5 incident. “That action by the Chinese, cutting in front ...100 yards out in front of the Cowpens, was not a responsible action,” Mr Hagel told a news conference. “It was unhelpful, it was irresponsible.”

Mr Hagel said the maritime confrontation, the first reported for several years, pointed to the need for clear protocols between the two militaries to avoid a potential clash in the Pacific.

“That’s the kind of thing that’s very incendiary, that could be a trigger or a spark that could set off some eventual miscalculation,” he said.

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