Two U.S. ships sail near disputed island in South China Sea

Galtero Lara
Febrero 12, 2019

He noted "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

Reacting to the US' move, China accused Washington of trespassing in its territorial waters.

The two sides are trying to hammer out a deal before the March 1 deadline when US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.

Beijing accused the United States of entering Chinese waters without permission and engaging in provocations that threaten China's sovereignty.

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.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also struck an upbeat tone about the talks, telling a news briefing: "We, of course, hope, and the people of the world want to see, a good result".

China claims nearly all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambastes the United States and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam.

In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands.

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

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An airstrip, structures, and buildings on China's man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea.

She demanded the United States "immediately stop its provocative actions" after the two destroyers conducted what Washington called "freedom of navigation" exercises in 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.

The USS Preble was one of two warships conducting the operation; they were shadowed by Chinese assets, but the interactions were routine and uneventful, according to a US official.

The USS Spruance and USS Preble - both Arleigh Burke-class destroyers - participated in what the U.S. Navy calls a "freedom of navigation operation", according to a statement by Cmdr.

The two countries have traded barbs over what USA said was Beijing's military installation building on artificial islands and reefs. China has built and militarized artificial islands in the sea in a bid to maintain its control.

Last year, China added surface-to-air missiles to the contested island, one of three that the Chinese military fortified in 2018.

It has claimed the U.S. is responsible for ratcheting up war fears in the region by sending warships and military planes close to territory China believes it is entitled to.

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