USA team in Beijing for trade talks after International Monetary Fund 'storm' warning

Clay Curtis
February 12, 2019

The Chinese side immediately conducted verification and identification on the US ships and warned them to leave, said the spokeswoman.

However, Hua expressed anger about two US warships sailing on Monday near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea, saying this was creating tensions in the area.

The Trump administration is demanding far-reaching changes from China to address commercial practices that it says are deeply unfair, including theft of American intellectual property and myriad barriers that USA and other foreign companies face in the Chinese domestic market. The ships entered the waters without China's permission, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.The US warships sailed near the islands the same day that China resumed trade talks with Washington.

Monday's sail-by is the second USA freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea this year.

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.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some South-east Asian navies operate.

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

In mid-January, US and British warships conducted their first joint military exercises in the South China Sea since Beijing began building bases and air strips on islands. The operation was the second in the South China Sea reported by the US Navy this year.

Tensions came to the fore in September, when a Chinese warship and US destroyer came within 45 yards of collision in the waters, renewing concerns about the risk of US-China confrontation.

China says the construction is necessary for defence, and it was the United States that was responsible for tensions by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.

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 US.

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

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