A Chinese newspaper says a US Navy guided missile cruiser had been harassing a Chinese fleet before it nearly collided with a Chinese warship early this month.
The Global Times on Monday rejected US military officials' comments that a Chinese warship nearly collided with the USS Cowpens when the US ship was in international waters December 5.
The Global Times cites an unnamed source who's familiar with the incident as saying that the USS Cowpens had entered within 45 kilometers (30 miles) of the Chinese fleet's "inner defense layer."
The paper cites the source as saying the US ship tailed after and harassed the Chinese fleet.
China's defense ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed query.
The incident comes amid heightened tension over China's growing assertiveness in the region.