The disputed South China Sea is just one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, which also include a trade tug-of-war.
China on Monday denounced a United States warship sail-by near disputed islands in the South China Sea as a violation of its sovereignty, amid mounting tensions over trade between the two countries.
The U.S. guided-missile destroyers Preble.
The move, carried out by the guided-missile destroyer USS Preble, comes amid heightened tensions between China and the USA following the countries' failed trade talks.
"Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by global law", Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet, stated.
The operation was carried out on Sunday, Reuters reported, citing a commander for the Seventh Fleet.
China is hitting back the USA, yet again, after an American naval vessel conducted a routine navigation in the South China Sea.
"I must stress once again that the US warship's relevant actions have violated China's sovereignty and undermined the peace, security and good order in the relevant sea areas".
Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the sea, including on the Spratly Islands, which Beijing calls Nansha.
It was the second such USA military operation in the South China Sea in the last month.
China has repeatedly accused the U.S. of carrying out provocations in the South China Sea, warning the country against sending vessels and warplanes close to the islands and reefs claimed by Beijing, urging its economic rival to "stop actions that undermine China's sovereignty and security interests".
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims in the region. He added, however, that China is firmly opposed to actions that damage the sovereignty and security of littoral states under the pretext of "freedom of navigation and overflight". Commenting on the matter during a news briefing, Foreign Minister Lu Kang said the ministry "strongly urges" the U.S. to stop sending its warships to the region, calling them "provocative actions". Last week, an America naval official said its freedom of navigation movements in the region were "drawing more attention than they deserved".
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