Trump says could let March 1 deadline for China trade deal slide

An official said the two US guided-missile destroyers traveled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands

An official said the two US guided-missile destroyers traveled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands

Portman, who served as USTR during the George W. Bush administration, added that the Trump administration "is committed to structural reforms at this point" and Trump is less likely to settle for a deal mainly focused on increased purchases of USA commodities. Clay Doss, a spokesman for US 7th Fleet.

"We respect all countries' right for freedom of navigation and flight under worldwide law, but we firmly oppose any action to jeopardize the sovereignty and security of countries under the pretext of freedom of navigation", Hua said Monday.

Doss confirmed the sailings to CNN. The operation was conducted to demonstrate that the U.S.

An airstrip, structures, and buildings on China's man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea. The United States has criticised China for militarising the islands by constructing long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles.

"We conduct routine and regular freedom of navigation operations as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future", he said.

"The relevant actions of the US warships violated Chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace, security, and order in the relevant sea areas", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday, South China Morning Post reported.

The alleged incursion by two USA warships into the internationally disputed waters of the South China Sea was the second such move within five weeks. "China urges the U.S.to immediately stop such provocative actions and earnestly respect the efforts by regional countries to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea". The report said two guided-missile destroyers passed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, a maneuver the USA uses to assert that a waterway is free to global transit.

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In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands.

China has criticized both encounters.

"It was always the opposite way", he said at a press briefing in the White House.

During that operation, a Chinese destroyer came within 41kms of the U.S. warship, forcing it to manoeuvre to avoid a collision.

The official said Monday's operation focused on Mischief Reef, a location claimed by China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Leaving the delegation's Beijing hotel Wednesday morning, Mnuchin said he's hoping for "productive meetings".

The US has said it will increase tariff rates on $200bn worth of Chinese imports from 10% to 25% if the two sides don't strike a deal by 1 March.

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