US Navy has had 18 unsafe or unprofessional encounters with China since 2016

The US Navy has had 18 unsafe or unprofessional encounters with Chinese military forces in the Pacific since...

Posted: Nov 4, 2018 12:09 PM
Updated: Nov 4, 2018 12:09 PM

The US Navy has had 18 unsafe or unprofessional encounters with Chinese military forces in the Pacific since 2016, according to US military statistics obtained by CNN.

"We have found records of 19 unsafe and/or unprofessional interactions with China and Russia since 2016 (18 with China and one with Russia)," Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet, told CNN.

Armed forces

Asia

Beijing

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

China

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

East Asia

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government organizations - US

Marine transportation

Marine vessels

Military

Military vessels

North America

Oceans and Seas (by name)

Physical locations

Political Figures - US

Politics

South China Sea

The Americas

Transportation and warehousing

United States

US Department of Defense

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

US Navy

White House

James Mattis

A US official familiar with the statistics told CNN that 2017, the first year of the Trump administration, saw the most unsafe and or unprofessional encounters with Chinese forces during the period.

At least three of those incidents took place in February, May and July of that year and involved Chinese fighter jets making what the US considered to be "unsafe" intercepts of Navy surveillance planes.

While the 18 recorded incidents only involved US naval forces, the Air Force has also had at least one such encounter during this period.

"Our continued presence in the region highlights our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and demonstrates that the US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows," Christensen added.

The US Navy told CNN that, in comparison, there were 50 unsafe or unprofessional encounters with Iranian military forces since 2016, with 36 that year, 14 last year and none in 2018. US and Iranian naval forces tend to operate in relatively narrow stretches of water, such as the Strait of Hormuz, increasing their frequency of close contact.

The Navy averages hundreds of air and sea operations annually in the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan, and officials say they take such unsafe interactions seriously.

"Make no mistake, the safety of our forces is paramount, and any time there is an unsafe and/or unprofessional incident, we are concerned," a US Navy official told CNN. "To address these incidents, the US responds through appropriate diplomatic and military channels."

The relative frequency of such interactions raises the possibility of a collision or clash that could spark a crisis or even a conflict between the two major powers.

In 2001, a collision between a US surveillance plane and a Chinese jet fighter led to a major diplomatic crisis between Washington and Beijing.

The most recent encounter with China took place last month while the Navy destroyer USS Decatur was sailing within 12 miles of two of the Spratly Islands as part of what the US calls a "freedom of navigation operation."

During that operation, a Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of the US warship, forcing it to maneuver to avoid a collision. The US labeled the Chinese warship's actions unsafe and unprofessional, while Beijing said the US was threatening the safety and sovereignty of China.

Tensions over militarization of islands

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is expected to meet Friday with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Wei Fenghe, in Washington. Mattis has sought to cooperate with Beijing were possible while also pushing back on what the US sees as China's militarization of the South China Sea.

"We will cooperate where we can," Mattis said Monday at an event at the US Institute for Peace, while adding the US "will confront them where we must, for example, freedom of navigation in international waters and that sort of thing."

The US has ramped up its criticism of China's militarization of islands in the South China Sea, emphasizing that the US military will continue to operate in that area to contest what the US views as Beijing's excessive claims.

"What we don't want to do is reward aggressive behavior like you saw with the Decatur incident by modifying our behavior," Joe Felter, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, told reporters last month while Mattis was traveling in the region.

"That's just not going happen," he added. "We're going to continue to exercise our rights under international law and encourage all our partners to do the same."

Mattis said at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Singapore last month following a meeting with Wei: "China's militarization of the South China Sea and aggressive action in international waters destabilizes the region and threatens shared efforts to promote security."

The US regularly sails vessels and flies aircraft in the South China Sea, but Beijing is particularly sensitive about the operations when they come near areas where the Chinese government has built islands and established military facilities on disputed maritime features.

Chinese warships will often shadow US vessels operating in the area, as they did last month while two US Navy ships were transiting the Taiwan Strait.

The Chinese military also kept a close eye on a recent joint US-Japan military exercise involving over 50,000 US and Japanese personnel,

US-China tensions have risen in recent weeks, with President Donald Trump accusing China of interfering in November's midterm elections and the countries embroiled in a high-profile trade dispute.

But on Friday Trump told reporters he had spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the two leaders wanted to work towards a trade deal and also discussed North Korea.

The Trump administration also recently sanctioned Beijing over its purchase of Russian weapons systems.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 485655

Reported Deaths: 6558
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1007641586
Ramsey43106801
Dakota36297390
Anoka33293385
Washington22078256
Stearns18734201
St. Louis14805262
Scott13290107
Wright12526115
Olmsted1178988
Sherburne872872
Carver772640
Clay691587
Rice670491
Blue Earth594735
Kandiyohi579574
Crow Wing520681
Chisago499045
Otter Tail482170
Benton446490
Winona418349
Mower404731
Douglas392668
Nobles387047
Goodhue385768
Polk343162
McLeod339349
Beltrami337951
Morrison324547
Itasca313046
Lyon313044
Becker311342
Isanti306154
Steele300411
Carlton300149
Pine282016
Freeborn280723
Nicollet258641
Todd248030
Brown245037
Le Sueur235320
Mille Lacs227447
Cass220024
Waseca208717
Meeker207434
Martin189528
Wabasha18653
Roseau180217
Hubbard160640
Houston157314
Dodge15224
Renville149640
Redwood147027
Fillmore13728
Chippewa136335
Cottonwood134820
Pennington134416
Wadena130920
Faribault123017
Aitkin118833
Sibley117310
Watonwan11738
Rock115714
Kanabec107519
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9448
Jackson93510
Swift87918
Pope8045
Marshall77815
Stevens7418
Lake74018
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68416
Wilkin67110
Koochiching61811
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5062
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned46768
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40921
Red Lake3625
Traverse3055
Lake of the Woods2191
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 362827

Reported Deaths: 5440
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58260551
Linn20670313
Scott18318210
Black Hawk16258292
Woodbury14979211
Johnson1384874
Dubuque13562194
Dallas1138690
Pottawattamie10791143
Story1024945
Warren556674
Clinton543784
Cerro Gordo533782
Webster519587
Marshall497272
Sioux494869
Buena Vista474537
Des Moines458861
Muscatine452291
Wapello4345108
Jasper417766
Plymouth395378
Lee375452
Marion359169
Jones294154
Henry293337
Carroll286249
Bremer280854
Crawford275135
Boone259730
Washington254347
Benton253854
Mahaska224746
Jackson221638
Dickinson217840
Tama213765
Kossuth208555
Clay193625
Hamilton192142
Delaware189140
Winneshiek189127
Buchanan185729
Fayette185235
Page183319
Hardin181439
Wright179931
Harrison179469
Cedar178523
Clayton168154
Butler167231
Mills163020
Floyd162741
Cherokee154836
Madison154718
Poweshiek154330
Hancock147130
Allamakee146747
Lyon145941
Iowa145023
Appanoose139247
Grundy139230
Jefferson138734
Winnebago138631
Cass134751
Calhoun133811
Mitchell130940
Louisa128241
Union126631
Chickasaw125215
Sac124618
Emmet121740
Shelby121733
Franklin118319
Humboldt117925
Guthrie116628
Palo Alto105221
Montgomery104136
Howard102921
Clarke100420
Unassigned9900
Keokuk98229
Monroe93328
Adair92128
Ida91432
Pocahontas85419
Davis83123
Monona81627
Greene77510
Lucas74021
Osceola70615
Worth6997
Taylor66612
Fremont5909
Decatur5829
Van Buren56118
Ringgold52320
Wayne48921
Audubon4889
Adams3274
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 43°
Mason City
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 42°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 39°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 38°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 42°
Mild conditions expected this week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events