STREAMING NOW: Watch Now
CLOSINGS: View Closings

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: 289303

Reported Deaths: 3434
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin616511100
Ramsey25903487
Anoka20522218
Dakota20096183
Washington13066109
Stearns1291098
St. Louis7935101
Scott782754
Wright702436
Olmsted626134
Sherburne538640
Clay463856
Carver432213
Blue Earth387112
Rice386033
Kandiyohi373819
Crow Wing334631
Nobles298729
Chisago29358
Otter Tail282818
Benton278642
Winona258128
Mower241323
Douglas237631
Polk234423
Morrison219524
Lyon201911
McLeod195610
Beltrami194615
Becker187512
Goodhue185727
Steele17826
Itasca176124
Isanti174316
Todd171612
Carlton165710
Nicollet150823
Freeborn14465
Mille Lacs141630
Le Sueur138110
Waseca134011
Cass12849
Brown125011
Pine12458
Meeker11308
Roseau10503
Hubbard103822
Martin101920
Wabasha9611
Redwood83718
Dodge8060
Chippewa8057
Watonwan7984
Cottonwood7682
Renville75119
Sibley7414
Wadena7376
Aitkin69826
Rock6829
Pipestone67818
Houston6422
Fillmore6320
Yellow Medicine59311
Pennington5856
Kanabec54912
Murray5493
Swift5366
Faribault5081
Pope4990
Stevens4643
Clearwater4536
Marshall4438
Jackson4361
Unassigned38759
Lake3816
Koochiching3535
Wilkin3465
Lac qui Parle3383
Norman3227
Lincoln3171
Big Stone2841
Mahnomen2704
Grant2516
Red Lake2033
Kittson1917
Traverse1360
Lake of the Woods931
Cook600

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 222064

Reported Deaths: 2319
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33019331
Linn13877164
Scott1085683
Black Hawk10730134
Woodbury10159121
Johnson935536
Dubuque907691
Story669721
Dallas624657
Pottawattamie612469
Sioux364625
Webster353033
Marshall343545
Cerro Gordo342644
Clinton319839
Buena Vista300014
Des Moines281719
Muscatine280968
Warren274011
Plymouth268941
Wapello251171
Jones227913
Jasper212443
Marion201719
Lee197916
Carroll195422
Bremer191312
Henry18037
Crawford173015
Benton166217
Tama152240
Jackson142113
Delaware140221
Washington137414
Dickinson134210
Boone134011
Mahaska125327
Wright12156
Buchanan115010
Clay11314
Hardin113010
Page11134
Hamilton10809
Clayton10715
Harrison106129
Cedar104913
Calhoun10487
Kossuth10236
Floyd102216
Mills10177
Fayette10159
Lyon10058
Poweshiek97913
Butler9746
Winneshiek95412
Iowa92312
Winnebago90223
Hancock8497
Louisa83916
Grundy83811
Chickasaw8354
Sac8297
Cherokee8134
Cass79721
Appanoose77310
Mitchell7704
Allamakee76811
Union7546
Humboldt7525
Shelby75010
Emmet74724
Guthrie73715
Franklin72921
Jefferson6852
Madison6734
Palo Alto6454
Unassigned6320
Keokuk5737
Pocahontas5532
Howard5419
Greene5160
Osceola5131
Clarke4774
Ida46813
Taylor4563
Davis4508
Montgomery44911
Monroe43712
Adair4298
Monona4212
Fremont3543
Van Buren3525
Worth3520
Lucas3216
Decatur3150
Wayne2957
Audubon2942
Ringgold2022
Adams1642
Rochester
Clear
33° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 24°
Mason City
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 28°
Albert Lea
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Austin
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 29°
Charles City
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 26°
A Sunny and Mild Saturday Expected
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events