The heads of the U.S. and Chinese navies had a teleconference last Thursday to discuss China's anger over an American naval destroyer's drive-by near one of Beijing's man-made islands in the South China Sea.
The disputed ocean territory has been consistently infringed on by Chinese ships. The U.S., attempting to “assert freedom of navigation” for American allies, has begun patrolling in the South China Sea. Last week, the U.S. sent a guided-missile destroyer about 12-nautical miles from the artificial islands created by China.
The Chinese responded to what they see as an incursion on its territory with sharp criticism before participating in the video talks.
After Admiral Wu Shengli and Admiral John Richardson spoke, the Chinese navy released a statement that included a quote of what Shengli said to Richardson:
"If the United States continues with these kinds of dangerous, provocative acts, there could well be a seriously pressing situation between frontline forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even a minor incident that sparks war.
(I) hope the U.S. side cherishes the good situation between the Chinese and U.S. navies that has not come easily and avoids these kinds of incidents from happening again."
The U.S. Navy did not respond to nor address the comments made by the Chinese official.
Instead, an agreement made in April of 2014 was referenced. Called the Code for Unplanned Encounters At Sea (CUES), it established a “standardized protocol of safety procedures, basic communications, and basic maneuvering instructions to follow for naval ships and aircraft during unplanned encounters at sea.”
Here's the summary of the teleconference, from a Naval spokesman:
“They agreed that it's very important that both sides continue to use the protocols under the CUES agreement when they're operating close to keep the chances for misunderstanding and any kind of provocation from occurring.”
Lastly, the two commanders agreed that planned visits to China by U.S. vessels and senior Naval personnel will continue.