Tags: us | south | china | sea

U.S. Destroyers Head to South China Sea After Standoff

Thursday, 12 Mar 2009 09:13 PM

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The United States has decided to provide heavily armed destroyers to escort US surveillance ships operating in the South China Sea after a tense naval standoff this week, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

"Right now they are going to escort these types of ships for the foreseeable future," the defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The US government has said Chinese boats moved directly in front of the US Navy surveillance vessel Impeccable on Sunday, forcing the ship to take emergency action to avoid a collision.

A day after the incident, the USS Chung-Hoon destroyer accompanied the Impeccable, an unarmed ship designed to track submarines, in the same area, the official said.

Since Sunday's high-seas standoff, there have been no incidents of harassment from Chinese boats or aircraft, he said.

"It's been quiet," the official said. "There's a great deal of emphasis right now to keep this at the diplomatic level. So that's been our focus."

The escorts by warships applied to operations in the South China Sea, he said.

The US government has protested to Chinese authorities over the incident, which occurred in the South China Sea, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Hainan Island.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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