U.S.'s Mnuchin, in China, looks forward to trade talks

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble sails into sunset

The so-called freedom-of-navigation patrols were reported earlier Monday by Reuters, which cited an unidentified US official.

An airstrip, structures, and buildings on China's man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea.

Beijing accused the United States of entering Chinese waters without permission and engaging in provocations that threaten China's sovereignty.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet confirmed the FONOP Monday afternoon with global media, stating that the operation was conducted "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law".

China claims nearly all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambastes the United States and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands. Clay Doss, a spokesman for US 7th Fleet.

Monday's operation was the second in the South China Sea reported by the US Navy this year.

Beijing sharply criticised the operation.

The US is "determined to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, create tension and undermine peace", Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing. Other regional nations-such as the Philippines and Vietnam-lay claim to part of the waterway and the US routinely pushes back against China by sending ships to patrol the sea. Beijing rejected the ruling and the authority of the tribunal.

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

More news: Nigeria prepares for Buhari vs. Atiku battle

The alleged incursion by two USA warships into the internationally disputed waters of the South China Sea was the second such move within five weeks. "Spruance and Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by global law".

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

The US has also sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait, drawing Beijing's ire.

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

A USA official said the warships had approached the islands on Monday to counter Chinese claims of domination over the entire South China Sea.

The US Navy, however, has stressed that it's not going anywhere.

'Spruance and Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law, ' said Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy's Seventh Fleet cited by CNN.

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