Beijing ‘angered’ as 2 USA warships enter S. China Sea - spokeswoman

Elias Hubbard
February 11, 2019

The two warships entered China's territorial seas around the Nansha Islands without permission from the Chinese government, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing.

The US sailed two warships close to the disputed islands in the South China Sea on Monday to challenge China's excessive maritime claim, according to a media report which said the move is certain to draw the ire of Beijing.

Hua said the warships also neared the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys, which is under Philippines control.

Asked if the ships' passage would impact trade talks, Hua said that "a series of USA tricks" showed what Washington was thinking. "I believe you all see through these small tricks by the US side", Hua told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Lower-level officials will kick off the meetings on Monday, led on the American side by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish.

Pentagon officials said two guided-missile destroyers had travelled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the fiercely disputed Spratly Islands.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command didn't respond to an email seeking comment on the patrol.

"Under such circumstances, the USA insistence on provocation, creating tensions and destroying the peace and stability of the South China Sea is unpopular", she said.

Fears have grown that the trade dispute between the two countries is just one part of a broader collapse in relations between the two nuclear superpowers.

Brit ministers have also claimed the United Kingdom should fight back more against China. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a statement Friday called on China to respect the country's sovereignty. Negotiations concluded in Washington last month without a deal and with the top US negotiator declaring that a lot more work needed to be done.

China claims nearly all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambasts the United States and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands. American warships have also sailed through the strait separating mainland China from democratically run Taiwan.

The relevant action by the USA side infringed upon China's sovereignty, and undermined the peace, security, and order of the relevant waters, Hua said, adding that China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard itself.

-With assistance from Cecilia Yap.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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