The clip said that on Aug. 19, the USS Ralph Johnson “conducted close-in harassment against a People’s Liberation Army Navy task group under routine training in the South China Sea.” It said the US destroyer carried out “several provocative actions such as making a sharp turn and sudden acceleration or deceleration, crossing the bow of the PLANS Guilin, and dangerously approaching the PLA Navy ships,” coming within 670 meters, or roughly 730 yards.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said at a regular press briefing Thursday that the video “shows that the US side is the real provoker, risk-taker and disrupter.” The US warship’s actions “endanger China’s national security,” Wu said, adding that his nation would “take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty.”
The US Pacific Fleet didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments outside of working hours.
It is rare for the Chinese military to release footage of encounters with the US military, and the move comes after the Pentagon said last week that China’s warplanes have sharply increased “coercive and risky” behavior in the South China Sea.
By releasing the video of the warship encounters, China appears to be trying to show that it is behaving responsibly in the region while the troublemaker is the US, though Washington insists its military activities are conducted in international airspace and waters. The video also said the US maneuvers violated agreements between the two nations on the behavior of ship captains at sea.
The US military also recently published images and videos highlighting the behavior of Chinese fighter pilots toward their American counterparts in international airspace. The incidents above the East and South China Seas show People’s Liberation Army pilots coming within some 20 feet of US aircraft, in some instances cutting in front of them.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea as its own, and bristles at military activity conducted by the US and its partners in the region. Earlier this month, a Canadian general criticized the Chinese air force over an incident off the coast of the Asian nation that apparently saw a fighter jet cut off a patrol plane and drop flares in its path.
The Philippines has also been stepping up efforts to show what it said are “aggressive” acts by Chinese ships in the South China Sea. It has released several videos and images of at least eight incidents involving Chinese vessels so far this year, often via social media.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden warned China that the US would be forced to intervene if Beijing attacks Philippine vessels in the South China Sea. A China Coast Guard vessel collided with a Philippines-contracted resupply boat on Sunday, and a Chinese maritime militia boat ran into a Philippine coast guard ship hours later.
The situation is likely to come up when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits the US for meetings with top officials. Wang is set to meet Biden on Friday at the White House, according to a person familiar with the matter.
He’ll also meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.