White House: China Trade Talks to Resume in Beijing Next Week

Sergio Conner
February 11, 2019

China and the USA have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing's militarisation of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.

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

The ships entered the waters without China's permission, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.The US warships sailed near the islands the same day that China resumed trade talks with Washington.

China's foreign ministry expressed anger on Monday after the warships sailed in the disputed South China Sea.

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

The operation was carried out "in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law", Cdr.

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"Under such circumstances, the United States insistence on provocation, creating tensions and destroying the peace and stability of the South China Sea is unpopular", she said.

Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also have territorial claims in the region. "That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe", he said.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some South-east Asian navies operate. 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.

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

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

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.

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