China trade talks resume

World War 3 fears in South China Sea

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters that Beijing hopes to see good results from the talks.

China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing's militarisation of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.

The sail-bys were conducted as both sides prepared for crucial trade talks in Beijing this week, seeking to avoid an all-out trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

The guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble travelled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands, which China claims ownership of.

Beijing and Washington are locked in a trade war and the two sides are trying to hammer out a deal ahead of a March 1 deadline when United States tariffs on US$200 billion (S$271 billion) worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent. 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. The US labelled the Chinese warship's actions unsafe and unprofessional, while Beijing said the US was threatening the safety and sovereignty of China.

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Hua said the warships also neared the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys, which is under Philippines control.

The Spratly Islands are a disputed group of islands, islets and cays and more than 100 reefs, sometimes grouped in submerged old atolls, in the South China Sea.

"China has always respected and safeguarded freedom of navigation and flight based on global laws in the South China Sea, but resolutely opposes any country falsely using these harm the sovereignty and security of coastal countries". The news comes on the day that a US trade delegation arrived in Beijing for another round of talks in the ongoing trade conflict between USA and China.

Tensions have been high for years between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea, with the us regularly drawing Chinese ire. "China urges the USA to immediately stop such provocative actions and earnestly respect the efforts by regional countries to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea".

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