China sea-thes after US warships sail close to disputed South China Sea islands

Updated: Feb 12, 2019, 09:40 IST | Agencies

Reacting to the move, China accused Washington of trespassing in its territorial waters

China sea-thes after US warships sail close to disputed South China Sea islands
An aerial shot of a reef in the disputed Spratly islands. Pic/AFP

The US sailed two guided-missile destroyers close to the disputed islands in the South China Sea on Monday to challenge China's excessive maritime claim, drawing the ire of Beijing, which accused Washington of trying to "stir up trouble".

The USS Spruance and USS Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands as part of what the US Navy calls a "freedom of navigation operation," CNN reported. The Spratly Islands are a disputed group of islands, islets and cays and more than 100 reefs in the South China Sea.

Reacting to the move, China accused Washington of trespassing in its territorial waters. The US is "determined to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, create tension and undermine peace", said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

Monday's operation was carried out "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law," said Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy's 7th Fleet.

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