China Expresses ‘Strong Dissatisfaction’ After U.S. Warships Sail near Spratly Islands

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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying claimed on Monday the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy warned Spruance and Preble against approaching territory claimed by China.

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 USA official.

"The risk remains that investors are unwilling to commit to a breakout until we see what emerges from U.S. Spruance and Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law".

Doss confirmed the sailings to CNN.

"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 added, arguing "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe". 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.

Mischief Reef is one of seven artificial islands built up by China over the last five years. The United States has criticised China for militarising the islands by constructing long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles.

Worldwide waters are considered 12 nautical miles from land.

Doss added: "We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS), as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future".

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Negotiators from the two countries are meeting this week in Beijing, with U.S. officials pressing China to commit to deeper reforms to a state-driven economic model that they say hurts American companies.

Another US warship, USS McCampbell, sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) of the Paracel Islands chain - north of the Spratly Islands - on January 7 during a previous round of trade talks between the two countries.

Juckes said he reckoned there was now a 75 percent chance that a ratcheting up of US tariffs on Chinese goods at the start of March will be avoided and a 95 percent chance that another USA government shutdown will be dodged. In January, China urged the U.S.to halt "provocative actions" after a USA guided-missile destroyer conducted sailed near the Paracel Islands, which are occupied by China and claimed by Vietnam. "The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition".

In October, the destroyer USS Decatur had to maneuver to avoid a collision with a Chinese warship that came within 45 yards of its bow.

Beijing asserts almost all of the South China Sea as its territorial waters, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts.

Fears have grown in recent months that the US-China trade dispute is just one element in a bilateral relationship that is fast cooling across the board, with top US administration officials sharply criticising Beijing for everything from human rights abuses to cyber espionage in the United States.

The two sides are trying to come up with a deal before March 1, when USA tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.

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