Two U.S. warships have sailed close to islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea - a move that could negatively impact on-going trade talks between the two nations.
For more on this and other news around the world we turn to our Ro Aram…
Aram… what's the latest?
Well Mark… the USS Spruance and USS Preble conducted what the U.S. Navy called a freedom of navigation operation within 22 kilometers of the Spratly Islands on Monday.
A spokesman for the 7th Fleet said the mission was conducted "in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law."
Such exercises have often been carried out by the U.S. Navy and have been the cause diplomatic tensions between Washington and Beijing.
China's foreign ministry issued an angry response.
(Mandarin) Reuters Edit No: 1006
"Relevant activities of the U.S. warships violated China's sovereignty and damaged peace, security and good order in relevant waters. China expresses firm opposition and dissatisfaction to this."
The spokesperson also demanded the U.S. stop what she called its "provocative actions," adding her country will take necessary actions to protect state sovereignty.
Beijing's warning came as officials from both sides were in the Chinese capital for a new round of trade talks this week.
It remains to be seen if Monday's operation will impact the negotiations.
China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, as do several of its neighbors, including the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
China's claim was largely discredited by an international arbitration tribunal three years ago, but Beijing has rejected the ruling.
The Chinese military has since bolstered its presence in the region, deploying military hardware and other defense systems.