DHL has apologised for a cargo ship that collided with a Chinese container vessel in international waters off the coast of California, saying the incident “does not fit our nature”.

Key points:DHL says the collision “does fit our own nature”The collision occurred off the US west coastAn emergency response team from China’s People’s Liberation Army Coast Guard took charge of the rescue operation.

A spokesman for DHL said the incident occurred off a fishing vessel off the California coast on Friday, where the ship was docked.

The collision “occurred during normal operations”, the spokesman told AFP news agency.

The Chinese Coast Guard said it had responded to the incident and is investigating the cause.

The incident occurred as the United States and China are engaged in a territorial dispute over the contested waters in the South China Sea.

China says it is building up its military presence in the region, while Washington has accused Beijing of violating international law.

China is not the only country to claim the area.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan also claim parts of the South and East China Seas.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said: “DHL apologises for any inconvenience caused and is fully cooperating with the Coast Guard.”

The spokesman said that US authorities would continue to monitor developments and continue to ensure that cargo ships do not interfere with the coast guard’s work.

“China has repeatedly accused the United Nations of interfering with its sovereignty and territorial integrity, saying it has been building up military facilities in the disputed waters.”

The international community should do more to safeguard the rights and interests of China’s citizens and not play into the hands of the enemy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.