China strongly dissatisfied by USA warships entering South China Sea

The US is "determined to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, create tension and undermine peace", Hua said. 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.

China has laid claim to most of the South China Sea, which is used by several countries, including the USA, as an important shipping lane.

The two countries are trying to hammer out a trade deal weeks ahead of a March deadline when USA tariffs on Chinese goods are scheduled to increase.

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

Another US warship, USS McCampbell, sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) of the Paracel Islands chain - north of the Spratly Islands - on January 7 during a previous round of trade talks between the two countries.

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

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 global law to pass through the waters, invariably angering China. She argued that her nation has "always respected and safeguarded freedom of navigation and flight based on worldwide laws in the South China Sea, but resolutely opposes any country falsely using these [to] harm the sovereignty and security of coastal countries".

China claims nearly all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lambasts the United States and its allies over naval operations near Chinese-occupied islands.

It comes at a time of increasing tensions between the United States and China over an ongoing trade war.

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

China firmly opposed the relevant action and urged the U.S.to immediately stop its provocations, Hua stressed.

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