China Upbeat on US Trade Talks, But S. China Sea Tensions Weigh
12 February, 2019, 07:57 | Author: Wade Massey
Reacting to the US' move, China accused Washington of trespassing in its territorial waters. When asked if the Navy's move would affect the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called it "a series of USA tricks, "according to Reuters".
She urged the USA to cease the "provocative actions".
China's foreign ministry expressed anger on Monday after the warships sailed in the disputed South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam.
The Arleigh Burke destroyers Spruance and Preble on Monday conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law", said Cmdr.
China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes in the South China Sea over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.
An airstrip, structures, and buildings on China's man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea.
The Chinese side immediately conducted verification and identification on the US ships and warned them to leave, said the spokeswoman. Other regional nations-such as the Philippines and Vietnam-lay claim to part of the waterway and the USA routinely pushes back against China by sending ships to patrol the sea. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 22kms of the Paracel Islands.
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China then accused the United States of trespassing, and Chinese media announced it had deployed a "far-reaching anti-ship ballistic missile", the DF-26, that was "capable of targeting medium and large ships".
The Chinese foreign ministry on Monday said the People's Liberation Army Navy sent vessels to track the USA warships sailing near the Spratlys and warned them to leave the area.
In late September, the USS Decatur also sailed within 22kms of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands as part of a similar freedom of navigation operation.
Last year, China added surface-to-air missiles to the contested island, one of three that the Chinese military fortified in 2018.
"There's been sort of a steady increase", Admiral John Richardson, the US Chief of Naval Operations, told reporters earlier this month when asked about China's militarization of the area.
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China's claim was largely discredited by an worldwide arbitration tribunal three years ago, but Beijing has rejected the ruling. The Chinese military has since bolstered its presence in the region, deploying military hardware and other defense systems.
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