Two US warships on Monday were spotted sailing near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, in a move that could anger Beijing amid the ongoing trade war between world's two biggest economies.
Al Jazeera reported that the US guided missile destroyers Preble and Chung Hoon travelled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands.
The disputed waters have overlapping territorial claims on it, with China, the Philippines, Vietnam (amongst others) all staking a claim on the sea.
On Sunday, US President Donald Trump vowed to increase pressure on China to reach a trade deal, announcing that he would raise US tariffs on Chinese goods worth USD 200 billion.
Monday's operation was the latest attempt by Washington to counter what it sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.
Last month, China's navy chief said freedom of navigation should not be used to infringe upon the rights of other countries.
In January, China's foreign ministry lodged a "stern complaint with the US" after its navy vessel sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands, claimed by China, in the South China Sea that is known for stocking large fishing grounds and underwater oil and natural gas reserves.
China, in retaliation, had deployed missiles "capable of targeting medium and large ships," accusing the United States of trespassing its territorial waters.
The latest freedom of navigation operation comes weeks after a major naval parade marked 70 years since the founding of the Chinese navy.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)