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Chinese and US naval warships face-off

Source: PTI
Last updated on: March 10, 2009 16:18 IST
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The Chinese and American naval warships had a major face-off in the South China sea, with Beijing telling Washington to stop what it called "illegal activities" in the area.

The face-off came when the Chinese warships surrounded and reportedly harassed a United States naval mapping ship 'USNS Impeccable' in international waters in South China sea on Sunday.

At one point, the US defence department said the Chinese warship were within 10 metres of the US boat, throwing debris on its path. But Beijing has taken a strong view of the incident, with the foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu saying that the US naval vessel had conducted illegal activities in China's Special Economic Zone in the South China sea and violated international and Chinese laws.

"China has lodged a solemn representation to the US as the USNS Impeccable conducted activities in China's SEZ without China's permission," Xinhua quoted the spokesman as saying.

"We demand that the US put an immediate stop to such activities and take effective measures to prevent similar acts from happening," Ma said.

The Chinese spokesman dismissed as "totally inaccurate and wrong" Washington's claims of harassment of the ship.

The incident took place in international waters in the South China sea about 120 kilometres south of Hainan Island, where the Chinese have a major nuclear submarine base.

As it was surrounded by the Chinese warship, USNS Impeccable, a surveillance ship, sprayed water on the Chinese vessels to force it away.

The US naval ship is specifically designed and has capability to listen underwater giving it submarine detection capabilities. China views the South China sea as its territory and which has put it at loggerheads with some other nations like Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan, which share the coastline to the sea, where large scale gas and oil exploration is undertaken.

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