U.S. and China resume trade talks in Beijing | Money Talks

An MH-60R Seahawk attached to the

"That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe". Ms Hua said the ships entered the waters without China's permission and that Beijing has expressed firm opposition and dissatisfaction at the move.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrived in Beijing on Tuesday ahead of high-level trade talks for the world's two largest economies to hammer out a deal ahead of a March 1 deadline.

One of Donald Trump's most persistent economic promises has been to rewrite the USA relationship with China.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two guided-missile destroyers travelled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands.

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. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam.

A spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, accused the USA of entering Chinese waters without permission and engaging in provocations that threaten China's sovereignty, the South China Morning Post reported.

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She demanded the USA "immediately stop its provocative actions" after the two destroyers conducted what Washington called "freedom of navigation" exercises in the area. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 22kms of the Paracel Islands.

Beijing has voiced its "strong dissatisfaction" with the United States on Monday after two USA warships sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea.

During a South China Sea freedom-of-navigation operation in September, a Chinese destroyer challenged a US vessel to a showdown, forcing the US Navy ship off course and risking a deadly collision.

"All operations are designed in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows", Doss said, adding "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe". The US labelled the Chinese warship's actions unsafe and unprofessional, while Beijing said the US was threatening the safety and sovereignty of China. The operation was the second in the South China Sea reported by the US Navy this year.

The US has accused Beijing of installing missiles and other military hardware on the disputed islands. 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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