China strongly dissatisfied by US warships entering South China Sea

An MH-60R Seahawk attached to the

The destroyers' transit on Monday took place as officials in Washington and Beijing negotiated trade talks.

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.

Two U.S. warships have sailed close to islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea - a move that could negatively impact on-going trade talks between the two nations.

At the start of next month, United States tariffs on $200billion (£155billion) worth of Chinese imports are set to more than double from 10% to 25%.

The same day the latest talks began, two US warships sailed near islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea, a USA official told Reuters.

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China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.

According to reports, the USS Spruance and USS Preble, both guided-missile destroyers, sailed within 22 km of the Spratly Island chain.

"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".

Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan have competing claims in the region.

The US is "determined to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, create tension and undermine peace", Hua said.

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

"We conduct routine and regular freedom of navigation operations as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future", he said. In late September, the USS Decatur also sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands as part of a similar freedom of navigation operation.

The destroyers conducted the passage, illustrating the continuing USA military presence in the area, to which China routinely has objected.

Analysts have said it would be hard for the world's two largest economies to resolve their trade disputes by the designated date, given the challenge of USA demands for structural reform in China to address issues of intellectual property protection, forced technology transfers and state subsidies favouring domestic companies.

It has claimed the United States 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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