US destroyers sail in disputed South China Sea amid trade tensions

World War 3 fears in South China Sea

World War 3 fears in South China Sea

Soybeans closed lower on Monday while grains were little changed amid pessimism about the ongoing trade talks between the USA and China.

They will try to reach a trade deal before a March 1 deadline after which the United States has threatened to increase tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports and risk retaliatory action from China.

Two US Navy destroyers conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea on Monday, challenging China's claims to the Spratly Islands.

"The relevant actions of the USA warships violated Chinese sovereignty and undermined peace, security, and order in the relevant sea areas".

The relevant action by the USA side infringed upon China's sovereignty, and undermined the peace, security, and order of the relevant waters, Hua said, adding that China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard itself.

The US and its allies periodically send planes and warships near South China Sea islands and reefs claimed by Beijing to signal their right under worldwide law to pass through the waters, invariably angering China.

Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the PLA Navy warned the USS Spruance and USS Preble against approaching Chinese-claimed territory in the Spratly Islands. 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 operation was the second in the South China Sea reported by the US Navy this year. "That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe", he said. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands.

The rising military tension comes against the backdrop of an increasingly bitter trade war between China and the US.

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.

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 United States.

China's claims to the South China Sea were largely discredited by an global arbitration tribunal three years ago.

The two countries are also at loggerheads over regional security, with the U.S. offering support to the island nation of Taiwan, which China also claims as its own.

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