A US guided missile cruiser operating in worldwide waters in the South China Sea was forced to take evasive action to avoid colliding with a Chinese warship manoeuvring nearby, said the US Pacific Fleet.
"The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of DECATUR's bow, after which DECATUR maneuvered to prevent a collision", said Brown. In 2013, the USS Cowpens was forced to take evasive action in order to avoid a collision with a Chinese warship less than 460 meters (500 yards) off its bow while operating in worldwide waters in the South China Sea.
The risky incident comes as China and United States are engaged in an increasingly bitter trade war involving punitive tariffs on other's products.
The incident comes as tensions escalate between Washington and Beijing over a wide range of issues, including, trade, Taiwan, sanctions, and increased American military activity in an area Beijing perceives being its sphere of influence.
The USS Decatur travelled within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson Reefs on Sunday.
The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.
Sovereignty over two largely uninhabited island chains, the Paracels and the Spratlys, is disputed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia.
The crash occurred about 80km (50 miles) southeast of the Chinese island of Hainan, in what USA officials described as global waters.
While the the notion of a shooting war between the United States and China may seem remote to casual observers, some market observers have noted the time honored progression of economic tensions like trade wars and currency wars eventually leading to a full-on hot war. China has rejected the worldwide tribunal's ruling.
In response, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Tuesday: "The US has been repeatedly sending warships to the islands and the adjacent waters in the South China Sea, which has seriously threatened China's sovereignty and safety".
Beijing claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, based on a 1947 map showing vague dashes - the so-called nine-dash line.
Two years ago, the U.S. military accused their Chinese counterparts of stealing two American underwater drones in the South China Sea as the U.S. Navy operated them from a short distance away.
Nevertheless, China expanded some land features in the reefs through sand dredging in 2014 and 2015 and then militarized the reefs with anti-aircraft and naval guns and radars.
China's Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement it strongly urged the United States to stop such "provocative" actions and to "immediately correct its mistakes".
Hua said that with joint efforts of China and the members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the current situation in the SCS has continued to stabilise and get better, while repeated provocative USA moves under the pretext of the so-called "freedom of navigation operation" have threatened the peace and stability in the region.