China Upbeat on US Trade Talks, But S. China Sea Tensions Weigh

China Upbeat on US Trade Talks, But S. China Sea Tensions Weigh

If the sides can not reach an agreement by March 1, when a 90-day tariffs truce ends, the Trump administration has said it will raise tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

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.

The USS Preble was one of two warships conducting the operation; they were shadowed by Chinese assets, but the interactions were routine and uneventful, according to a US official.

Trade talks between the US and China have resumed and China is reportedly upbeat.

The FONOP involved the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble, which patrolled through the area to "challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by global law", as U.S. Navy 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr.

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

The Chinese foreign ministry on Monday said the People's Liberation Army Navy sent vessels to track the U.S. warships sailing near the Spratlys and warned them to leave the area. 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. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 22kms of the Paracel Islands.

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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.

The destroyers conducted the passage, illustrating the continuing US military presence in the area, to which China routinely has objected.

Observers fear the trade dispute is just one element in the deteriorating relationship between the world's two top economies with top White House officials sharply criticising Beijing for everything from human rights abuses to cyber-warfare.

"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".

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

Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam also have territorial claims in the region.

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