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US destroyers sail by Spratly Islands defying Chinese sovereignty claims

TWO US destroyers sailed through waters claimed by China in the South China Sea, risking upsetting Beijing as a new round of trade talks gets underway

US destroyers sail by Spratly Islands defying Chinese sovereignty claims

TWO US destroyers sailed through waters claimed by China in the South China Sea, risking upsetting Beijing as a new round of trade talks gets underway

22 February 2019 - 19:00

TWO US destroyers sailed through waters claimed by China in the South China Sea, risking upsetting Beijing as a new round of trade talks gets underway.

The guided-missile destroyers travelled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified US official.



The reef is one of seven artificial structures that China has built by reclaiming land, and which the US alleges the Chinese have militarised.



The sail-by comes as US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer leads a group of administration officials to Beijing, the latest high-profile effort to resolve the two countries' trade dispute before March 1.



China claims as territory more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea. Five other countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, have competing claims. The US regularly sends vessels through the waters to assert its right to sail in what it considers international waters.



In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled against Chinese claims.


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