U.S. Warships Patrolling Beijing-Claimed Waters Prompt Chinese Protest

An official said the two US guided-missile destroyers traveled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands

An official said the two US guided-missile destroyers traveled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands

Two U.S. warships have sailed close to islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea - a move that could negatively impact on-going trade talks between the two nations.

Well Mark... the USS Spruance and USS Preble conducted what the U.S. Navy called a freedom of navigation operation within 22 kilometers of the Spratly Islands on Monday. 'The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition'.

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. In January, China urged the U.S.to halt "provocative actions" after a US guided-missile destroyer conducted sailed near the Paracel Islands, which are occupied by China and claimed by Vietnam.

She urged the United States to cease the "provocative actions". "That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".

Aerial view on the The Spratly Islands, one of the major archipelagos in the South China Sea.

The Arleigh Burke destroyers Spruance and Preble on Monday conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by global law", said Cmdr.

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. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell challenged China's claims to the Paracel Islands.

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

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.

During that operation, a Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of the USA warship, forcing it to maneuver to avoid a collision.

The two countries have traded barbs over what USA said was Beijing's military installation building on artificial islands and reefs.

China says the bases are essential for self-defense and accused the U.S. of ramping up tensions in the region by sending battleships and warplanes close to the disputed islands.

Top US officials have attacked China for everything from human rights abuses to cyber espionage in America.

The two countries are also at odds over regional security, including Washington's overtures to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

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