A US Destroyer has sparked fury from Beijing, adding to rising tensions over a range of issues from trade to military ties. Washington's sending a warship to within 12 nautical miles of the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea. An area that Beijing has claimed as its own and equipped with military facilities.
The so-called Freedom of Navigation Operation is Washington's latest challenge to Beijing's presence in the area. The Defense Ministry on Tuesday calling the maneuvers a serious threat to the country's sovereignty and security, and damaging to bilateral ties. Relations between Washington and Beijing are badly frayed, with the two countries locked in a trade war, taking turns slapping each other's imports with punishing tariffs.
And US President Donald Trump recently took things a step further, accusing Beijing of trying to interfere in Congressional elections. A move that US officials told Reuters was calculated to step up the pressure on China. Tensions now seem to be taking a toll on the military front. China recently cancelled the round of security talks with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis scheduled for this month and is now hinting it may also cancel an upcoming visit by its defense minister to the United States.
But so far, Mattis seems to be keeping his cool. The Pentagon chief says that US-China ties are not going downhill. He told reporters on Monday that he'll meet his Chinese counterpart when the time is right and quote, we'll sort this out.