12:18 GMT +320 October 2019
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    This Mar. 6, 2016, file photo provided by the U.S. Navy, shows the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) sails in the South China Sea. China says it dispatched warships to identify and warn off a pair of U.S. Navy vessels sailing near one of its island claims in the South China Sea. A statement on the Defense Ministry’s website said the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam entered waters China claims in the Paracel island group “without the permission of the Chinese government.”

    US Voices Opposition to China's Military Steps in South China Sea

    © AP Photo/ MC2 Marcus Stanley
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    The United States wants Beijing to withdraw its missiles from the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, US officials announced during talks at the state department.

    Washington objects to Beijing's unilateral military steps in the South China Sea and the pace of US freedom of operations trips to the disputed water areas has increased, US National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters in Singapore on the sidelines of the ASEAN.

    The statement comes after US-China bilateral talks where Chinese officials asked Washington to stop sending vessels and military aircraft close to Chinese islands and reefs and "stop actions that undermine China's sovereignty and security interests."

    According to the joint press release after the talks, both sides agreed to remain committed to "non-confrontation," and support the peaceful resolution of any disputes in the contested region.

    China has repeatedly encountered US warships in the South China Sea, with one of the incidents taking place in October; a Chinese Luyang-class destroyer came within 45 yards of the USS Decatur, forcing the ship to manoeuvre to avoid a collision.

    READ MORE: Beijing: US Should Stop Actions That Undermine Our Sovereignty in S China Sea

    The disputes escalated in May when US Secretary of Defense James Mattis noted that despite Chinese President Xi Jinping's promise not to militarize the Spratly Islands, Beijing had moved weapons there. In turn, Beijing stressed that it had the sovereign right to send troops to any part of its territory.

    China claims to control the vast majority of the islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea, which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan.

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    Tags:
    military presence, dispute, John Bolton, United States, South China Sea, China
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