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

President Donald Trump gestures near Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House

President Donald Trump gestures near Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House

Washington suspended plans in December to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports - to 25 percent from the current 10 percent - to give negotiators space to resolve a trade spat that has triggered fears of a global economic slowdown.

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.

Speaking about the most recent operation, Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, told CNN that the action was meant to "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law".

China's Foreign Ministry expressed anger on Monday after two USA navy ships sailed near islands claimed by Beijing in the disputed South China Sea. "China has always respected and safeguarded freedom of navigation and flight based on worldwide laws in the South China Sea, but resolutely opposes any country falsely using these harm the sovereignty and security of coastal countries". A round of talks at the end of January ended with some progress reported - but no deal and US declarations that much more work was needed.

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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 United States and other foreign companies face in the Chinese domestic market.

She demanded the United States "immediately stop its provocative actions" after the two U.S. guided-missile destroyers conducted what Washington called "freedom of navigation" exercises in the area.

The operation was the US's latest attempt to counter what it sees as China's mission to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters where Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian navies operated.

'China has indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal, Mischief Reef, and the adjacent waters, ' Hua said.

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China claims nearly all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambastes the United States and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.

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. In September, a Chinese warship came within just 45 yards of a US destroyer, raising concerns about the possibility of tensions boiling over into conflict.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it.

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