BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:00 A.M.) – The Trump administration upped the ante in the South China Sea on Monday morning as two U.S. destroyers reportedly entered the disputed territorial waters in a bid to send a message to the government in Beijing.
The South China Sea is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and Taiwan.
The U.S. guided-missile destroyers Preble and Chung Hoon traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.
Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet, said that the “innocent passage” was “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”
Trump’s move, however, may anger the Chinese government, who has already expressed their dismay over the U.S. President’s attempts to increase pressure on the Chinese economy.
Trump said in a Sunday afternoon Twitter post that the current 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will rise to 25% on Friday. He also threatened to impose 25% levies on an additional $325 billion of Chinese goods “shortly.”
One of the sources said Trump’s decision to more than double the tariff rate on $200 billion of goods was meant to send a message to Liu to not come to the US with more “empty offers.”
Editor-in-chief of China’s Global Times newspaper Hu Xijin also suggested that Liu He is “very unlikely” to go to the United States this week following US President Donald Trump’s “threat” to hike tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
“Let Trump raise tariffs. Let’s see when trade talks can resume,” Hu Xijin said in a tweet.
Sources: Reuters, Sputnik