Second US ‘freedom of navigation’ exercise in five weeks stokes Chinese anger
China voiced its “strong dissatisfaction” with the United States on Monday, after Washington sent two warships to disputed waters near islands in South China Sea as negotiators prepared to resume talks on averting an all-out trade war between the two countries.
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.
She demanded the US “immediately stop its provocative actions” after the two US guided-missile destroyers conducted what Washington called “freedom of navigation” exercises in the area.
Hua’s warning came as both sides were in Beijing to prepare for a new round of talks this week. They will try to reach a trade deal before a March 1 deadline after which the US has threatened to increase tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports and risk retaliatory action from China.
Beijing lays claim to most of the energy-rich South China Sea, overlapping with several of its neighbours, including Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
“The relevant actions of the US warships violated Chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace, security, and order in the relevant sea areas,” Hua said.

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