China strongly dissatisfied by US warships entering South China Sea

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

"The US side will not fully remove the spectre of tariff hikes any time soon", Kuijs said, given that there is "broad support in the US for a hard stance on China".

She urged the U.S. to cease the "provocative actions".

The Spratly Islands are a disputed group of islands, islets and cays and more than 100 reefs, sometimes grouped in submerged old atolls, in the South China Sea.

United States negotiators met with their Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Monday for a new round of high-stakes trade talks, hoping to reach a deal before the March 1 deadline set by Donald Trump as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned of a possible global economic "storm".

Tensions have been high for years between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea, with the us regularly drawing Chinese ire.

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.

Communist superpower China claims ownership over nearly all of the South China Sea - frequently slamming the United States and its allies for naval operations in the territory. The deployment is seen as the latest attempt by Washington to stand up to what it believes are attempts by Beijing to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and other Southeast Asian navies operate.

"The relevant actions of the USA warships violated Chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace, security, and order in the relevant sea areas", Hua said. In September, a Chinese warship came within just 45 yards of a USA destroyer, raising concerns about the possibility of tensions boiling over into conflict.

Over the last five years China has rapidly built artificial islands housing significant military infrastructure on what had been low-lying reefs.

Beijing lays claim to most of the energy-rich South China Sea, overlapping with several of its neighbours, including Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

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