Published: Mon, February 11, 2019

China upbeat on United States trade talks, but South China Sea tensions weigh


China says the bases are essential for self-defense and accused the USA of ramping up tensions in the region by sending battleships and warplanes close to the disputed islands.

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.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal, Mischief Reef, and the adjacent waters", Hua claimed.

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

The USS McCampbell destroyer conducted a "freedom of navigation" operation within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands five weeks ago to "challenge excessive maritime claims", according to the Pacific Fleet, which Beijing also protested.

"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 added, arguing "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe".


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

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

Shortly after that operation, China accused the U.S. of trespassing in its territorial waters - and said it had deployed missiles "capable of targeting medium and large ships". The US destroyers sailed near the Chinese Nansha Islands as part of what Washington calls freedom of navigation operations.

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

It comes at a time of increasing tensions between the United States and China over an ongoing trade war. China claims a large part of the South China Sea, and has built artificial islands and air bases there, prompting concern around the region and in Washington.

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