Saturday, 23 February, 2019

China Upbeat on US Trade Talks, But S. China Sea Tensions Weigh

Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai China Containers are seen at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai China
Melinda Barton | 13 February, 2019, 04:10

Cmdr. Clay Doss, U.S. Seventh Fleet public affairs officer, told Fox News in a statement: "Guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG 111) and USS Preble (DDG 88) conducted freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) in the South China Sea".

USA tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China are scheduled to rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if the two sides can not reach a deal by a March 1 deadline, increasing pain and costs in sectors from consumer electronics to agriculture.

Top US officials have attacked China for everything from human rights abuses to cyber espionage in America. "We, of course, hope, and the people of the world want to see, a good result", Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman, said.

The USS Spruance was one of the warships which conducted the operation, which illustrates the continuing US military presence in the area, to which China routinely objects.

An airstrip, structures, and buildings on China's man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam.

Navy spokesman Commander Clay Doss told USA media: "All operations are designed in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows". "That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe", he said. In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 22kms of the Paracel Islands.

China then accused the U.S. of trespassing, and Chinese media announced it had deployed a "far-reaching anti-ship ballistic missile", the DF-26, that was "capable of targeting medium and large ships".

US stocks rallied on Trump's trade comments, along with a tentative congressional spending deal aimed at avoiding another government shutdown.

The officials' comments come as the next round of the China-US trade negotiations will be held in Beijing on Thursday and Friday.

Fears have grown that the trade dispute between the two countries is just one part of a broader collapse in relations between the two nuclear superpowers.

Over the last five years China has rapidly built artificial islands housing significant military infrastructure on what had been low-lying reefs. China has developed a military infrastructure, including long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles, on what had been low-lying reefs.

China says the bases are essential for self-defense and accused the USA of ramping up tensions in the region by sending battleships and warplanes close to the disputed islands.