China on Monday asked the United States to stop "provocative actions", a day after an American warship sailed near the Scarborough Shoal, which is a disputed territory in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing, Reuters reported.
Monday's freedom-of-navigation operation came as China and the US continue trade talks aimed at easing the escalating tariffs each country has imposed on the other, but Keiley said the operation was not geared toward any specific nation.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang claimed the U.S.is "abusing its freedom of navigation" in the waterway, and accused the White House of trying to "disturb regional peace and stability". The U.S. fears the outposts could be used to restrict free movement in the waterway - which includes vital sea lanes through which about $3 trillion in global trade passes each year - and regularly conducts FONOPs in the area.
Sunday's incident marks the second such U.S. intrusion into the South China Sea this month.
"The relevant actions from the USA side endanger the safety of both Chinese and American ships and personnel, and undermine China's sovereignty and safety", said Li Huamin, spokesman of the PLA's Southern Theatre Command. China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.
China claims all the islands in the South China Sea, however, it is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.
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The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman has accused the U.S. of violating Chinese sovereignty as a U.S. destroyer sailed in the South China Sea against the backdrop of spiralling tension between the world's two largest economies.
China claims nearly all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently rails against the United States and its allies over naval operations conducted near Chinese-claimed islands.
But he added: "Their moving into the South China Sea is not because they want freedom of navigation".
China imposed retaliatory tariff hikes on $60 billion of American goods, and in the US the price of soybeans fell to a 10-year low on fears of a protracted trade war.
China defends its construction as necessary for self-defence and says the United States is responsible for ratcheting up tension by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.