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ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION China's behavior in a narrowly averted naval collision in the South China Sea was both "unhelpful" and "irresponsible," U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday, warning against incidents could escalate existing U.S.-Chinese tensions. "That action by the Chinese, cutting in front of, their ship, 100 yards in front of the Cowpens was not a responsible action. It was unhelpful; it was irresponsible," Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon. China on Wednesday acknowledged an encounter in early December between a Chinese naval vessel and the U.S. warship in the South China Sea. China said its ship was conducting "normal patrols" when it encountered the U.S. missile cruiser, and its official news agency accused the United States of deliberate provocative behavior. But U.S. officials depicted the event differently. They said the U.S. ship was forced to take evasive action to avoid collision. The incident comes aft