China on Monday chided the US for sailing two warships in the disputed South China Sea, a move that comes ahead of the latest round of trade parleys between the countries this week.
As the preparatory lower-level trade talks between the Chinese and US officials were underway on Monday, Washington sailed two guided-missiles within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands as part of the US Navy's "freedom of navigation operation".
Beijing reacted angrily, saying the US was provoking China and trying to harm its sovereignty and security on the pretext of freedom of navigation.
"We firmly oppose this. China urges the US side to stop such provocations and respect our efforts to uphold the stability and peace in the region," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said here.
"With the concerted efforts of China and Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, the situation in the South China Sea is peaceful and stable, but now the US is making provocation and creating tensions and trying to harm and peace and stability there.