Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Beijing expresses anger at US Navy mission through disputed South China Sea

Beijing expresses anger at US Navy mission through disputed South China Sea

The guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble travelled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands, which China claims ownership of.

"The relevant actions of the USA warships violated Chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace, security, and order in the relevant sea areas", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday, South China Morning Post reported.

She demanded the USA "immediately stop its provocative actions" after the two U.S. guided-missile destroyers conducted what Washington called "freedom of navigation" exercises in the area.

The spokesperson also demanded the US stop what she called its "provocative actions", adding he country will take necessary actions to protect state sovereignty.

China has lashed out at the United States in the wake of another "freedom of navigation" exercise conducted by the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea, accusing Washington of undermining "peace" and "security".

"Relevant activities of the US warships violated China's sovereignty and damaged peace, security and good order in relevant waters".

The move angered Beijing at a time when the USA and China ton are locked in a trade war and are negotiating a deal ahead of a March 1 deadline when USA tariffs on $ 200 billion worth of Chinese imports are expected to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

"U.S. Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea", Doss said in a statement.

"All operations are designed in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows", Doss said, adding "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe". The operation was the second in the South China Sea reported by the US Navy this year. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell challenged China's claims to the Paracel Islands.

Washington has hit back in the past, claiming it is countering Beijing's militarisation of the South China Sea by building army installations on artificial reefs and islands.

It comes at a time of increasing tensions between the United States and China over an ongoing trade war.

Observers fear the trade dispute is just one element in the deteriorating relationship between the world's two top economies with top White House officials sharply criticising Beijing for everything from human rights abuses to cyber-warfare.

The two countries are also at odds over regional security, including Washington's overtures to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

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