World Media

US Navy warships sail in South China Sea near contested manmade island

US Navy warships sail in South China Sea near contested manmade island

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin looks forward to several important days of trade talks, he said on Tuesday after arriving in the Chinese capital for high-level talks to hammer out a deal ahead of a March 1 deadline.

Washington has hit back in the past, claiming it is countering Beijing's militarisation of the South China Sea by building army installations on artificial reefs and islands. When asked if the Navy's move would affect the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called it "a series of US tricks, "according to Reuters".

The guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble travelled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands, which China claims ownership of.

China then accused the USA of trespassing, and Chinese media announced it had deployed a "far-reaching anti-ship ballistic missile", the DF-26, that was "capable of targeting medium and large ships".

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

Monday's operation was carried out "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by global law", Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy's 7th Fleet, said.

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

Freedom-of-navigation operations occur frequently, but they have not stopped China from bolstering its position militarily in the South China Sea.

Cops probe hurling of chair from high-rise balcony
They are also looking into whether the condo unit - some 20 to 30 storeys high - was being rented out at the time of the incident. Toronto police say they have identified the woman shown in a video of a chair being thrown from a downtown condominium balcony.

It was the second such U.S. operation in the South China Sea this year.

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

In late September, the USS Decatur also sailed within 22kms of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands as part of a similar freedom of navigation operation.

During that operation, a Chinese destroyer came within 41kms of the U.S. warship, forcing it to manoeuvre to avoid a collision.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, center, a member of the USA trade delegation to China, arrives at a hotel in Beijing, China, Feb. 12, 2019.

"We've gone up tremendously in value as a country". The United States has criticised China for militarising the islands by constructing long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles.

China defends its construction as necessary for self-defense and says it is the United States that is responsible for ratcheting up tensions in the region by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.


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