Two US missile destroyers sailed Monday near the Chinese artificial island of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea, the scene of several territorial conflicts that have led to tensions in the region.
Last year, China added more surfaces. Air defense missiles on the embattled island, one of three, which had attached the Chinese military in 201
The destroyers made the passage and illustrate the continued US military presence in the region, which China regularly objected to.
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Cmdr. Clay Doss, public affairs officer for the US Seventh Fleet, told Fox News in a statement: "Destroyed missile missiles USS Spruance (DDG 111) and USS Preble (DDG 88) conducted air traffic control operations (FONOPS) in the South China Sea. Spruance and Preble sailed from the Spratly Islands within 12 nautical miles in order to enforce excessive maritime claims and to protect access to the waterways in accordance with international law.
The warships were shadowed by Chinese assets, but the interactions were routinely and uneventfully, according to a separate US official.
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Doss added, "We perform routine and regular freedoms of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) as we have done in the past and will do in the future. FONOPs are neither about a country nor political statements. "
China is fought in several disputes in the South China Sea over smaller islands with islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters that are crucial for global trade fish and potential oil and gas reserves.
Said Doss: "US troops operate daily in the Indo-Pacific, including the South China Sea. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and show that the United States is flying, sailing and operating where international law permits. This is true in the South China Sea as in other places in the world.
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The operation came when the Trump government prepared for another round of trade talks with the Chinese government.
Finance Minister Stephen Mnuchin leads a delegation to meet on Thursday and Friday with Chinese officials. The talks are aimed at resolving a trade war that threatens to put a brake on global economic growth, in part by raising the prices of goods for consumers and businesses. The situation could get worse as the ceasefire will expire at the beginning of March.
Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press of Fox News contributed to this report.