Beijing ‘angered’ as 2 USA warships enter S. China Sea - spokeswoman

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the delegation

"The relevant actions of the US warships violated Chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace, security, and order in the relevant sea areas", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday, South China Morning Post reported. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet, obtained by ABC News.

The goal was "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways", as well as to show that the U.S. "will fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows", Cmdr.

Other issues being negotiated include the trade imbalance in China's favour, cyber theft, currency controls, market access and a enforcement mechanism for any agreements made.

Over the last five years China has rapidly built artificial islands housing significant military infrastructure on what had been low-lying reefs. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell challenged China's claims to the Paracel Islands.

The USS Spruance and USS Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands as part of what the US Navy calls a "freedom of navigation operation", CNN reported.

Doss said FONOPS "are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements".

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said its Navy warned the ships against approaching Chinese-claimed territory in the Spratly Islands.

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.

But Hua slammed the USA, arguing that "China has indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea, including the Second Thomas Shoal, Mischief Reef, and the adjacent waters".

China has criticized both encounters.

The relevant action by the USA side infringed upon China's sovereignty, and undermined the peace, security, and order of the relevant waters, Hua said, adding that China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard itself.

In October, the destroyer USS Decatur had to maneuver to avoid a collision with a Chinese warship that came within 45 yards of its bow.

China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes in the South China Sea over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.

The rising military tension comes against the backdrop of an increasingly bitter trade war between China and the US.

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 $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.

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