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China to US: Minor Provocative Act in South China Sea Could Spark War

© REUTERS / US NavyUS Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen
US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen - Sputnik International
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China’s Naval Commander, Admiral Wu Shengli, has warned the US Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, that any “dangerous, provocative acts” of the US Navy could spark war in the South China Sea.

"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," Reuters quoted a Chinese naval statement as saying following a video teleconference between the admirals on Thursday.

Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan - Sputnik International
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"I hope the US side cherishes the good situation between the Chinese and US navies that has not come easily and avoids these kinds of incidents from happening again," Wu said.

The two naval officers held talks after a US warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of one of Beijing's man-made islands in the contested Spratly archipelago on Tuesday despite repeated warnings from China that such overt action would be taken as a deliberate provocation in an already strained relationship between the two countries.

China has rebuked Washington over the patrol.

USS Lassen (DDG 82), (R) transits in formation with ROKS Sokcho (PCC 778) during exercise Foal Eagle 2015, in waters east of the Korean Peninsula - Sputnik International
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Both officers agreed on the need to stick to protocols established under the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).

"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," Reuters quotes one US official as saying.

Admiral Wu Shengli said he believed the Chinese and US navies had plenty of scope for cooperation and should both "play a positive role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea".

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