The United States has for years routinely patrolled the seas as part of what it calls "freedom of navigation operations". The US disregard of China's claims over the disputed waters, through which trillions of dollars-worth of trade passes annually, is being demonstrated amid unprecedented tensions between the world's two largest economies.
The US Navy said in a statement Monday that the two ships came within 45 yards (41 meters) of each other, as the Chinese warship "conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for the Decatur to depart the area". "We will not stand down", the speech will say.
The military exchanges between the two countries, and in particular the stops of their navy in the ports of the two countries, had been suspended after a crash in mid-flight between the us spy plane EP-3 and a chinese fighter in 2001 on the southern coast of china.
New images have revealed the tiny margin between a US Navy destroyer and a Chinese warship sent to head it off in the South China sea during a tense standoff on Sunday.
China's military buildup in the waterway, which has included placing airstrips, radar domes, missile systems and other military equipment on the islands, prompted Mattis in May to disinvite Beijing from participating in a multinational naval exercise in the Pacific.
The destroyer conducted an "an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver", Gorman said.
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The proposal, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between the USA and China, has yet to be approved.
The Chinese defence ministry says it opposes the United States warship's entry into the waters "around China's islands and reefs".
China's Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the US vessel to leave and that Beijing had irrefutable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the waters around them.
News of this plan comes on the heels of serious incidents in the East and South China Seas.
Such freedom-of-navigation operations have been somewhat routine near man-made reefs and islands that China has militarized in the South China Sea.
Mattis this week acknowledged "tension points" between the US and China, but told reporters he did not "see it getting worse".
The ministry said China has irrefutable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the waters around them, and the situation there is progressing well thanks to the hard work of China and countries in Southeast Asia.
Mattis characterized China's militarization in the South China Sea as being for "intimidation and coercion".