11:42 GMT05 March 2021
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    The Chinese ambassador also revealed that it can be quite difficult for foreign diplomatic officials to determine who among Trump’s advisers currently has the president’s ear.

    Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to the US, has announced that during the recent incident in the South China Sea, when a US guided missile destroyer barely managed to avoid collision with a Chinese warship, the Chinese vessel was merely responding to an intervention “at China’s doorstep.”

    In an exclusive interview on Fox News Sunday, Tiankai insisted that the very name of the location where said incident took place clearly shows whose vessel was “on the offensive” and who was “on the defensive.”

    "Where the incident took place, you were right to say it was in South China Sea. So it’s at China’s doorstep," Tiankai said. "It’s not Chinese warships that are going to the coast of California, or to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s so close to the Chinese islands and it’s so close to the Chinese coast. So who is on the offensive? Who is on the defensive? This is very clear."

    The encounter between the USS Decatur and China's naval forces happened after the American destroyer was reported sailing in the disputed territory of the Spratly Islands. The warship is said to be acting under the “freedom of navigation” program that urges China to allow other nations’ warships to pass through the territorial waters of the South China Sea.

    When the US destroyer approached one of the Gaven Reefs near the disputed islands, China dispatched a Luyang-class destroyer to escort the American warship away.

    The South China Sea is one of the world's most sensitive areas. Beijing's extensive territorial claims to the sea, which include islands, banks, reefs and maritime ways, are challenged by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan, which also have counter claims.

    Trump's 'Confusing' Inner Circle

    The ambassador also revealed  explained that the workings of inner circle of US President Donald Trump can be very confusing for foreign diplomatic officials.

    "Honestly, I’ve been talking to ambassadors of other countries in Washington, D.C., and this is also part of their problem. They don’t know who is the final decision-maker. Of course, presumably, the president will take the final decision, but who is playing what role? Sometimes it could be very confusing," he said.

    Good Feeling About Trump-Xi Meeting

    Tiankai added however that despite the strained US-Chinese relations, he remains optimistic about the upcoming meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping which is expected to take place in November.

    "There’s a good mutual understanding and good working relationship between the two. I hope and I’m sure this will continue," the ambassador remarked.


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