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China says US warship in South China Sea is a 'provocation'

File photo of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Beijing, China Jan 07, 2019, 04.34 PM (IST)

China has lodged "stern representations" with the United States over a US navy vessel sailing near disputed islands in the South China Sea, its foreign ministry said on Monday (January 7) as US officials joined talks in Beijing during a truce in a bitter trade war.

Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said in an emailed statement that the USS McCampbell, a guided-missile destroyer, carried out a "freedom of navigation" operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain, "to challenge excessive maritime claims". 

China claims the islands, and called the move a "provocation".

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The statement came as trade talks between China and the United States were under way in Beijing, the first round of face-to-face discussions since both sides agreed to a 90-day truce in a trade war that has roiled international markets. Asked about the timing of the operation during trade talks, Lu said resolving issues would benefit the two countries and the world.

China claims almost all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambastes the United States and its allies for freedom of navigation naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.

Story highlights

Pacific Fleet spokeswoman Rachel McMarr said in an emailed statement that the USS McCampbell, a guided-missile destroyer, carried out a 'freedom of navigation' operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Island chain, 'to challenge excessive maritime claims'.