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Deanna Wagner | 13 February, 2019, 19:43

The so-called freedom-of-navigation patrols were reported earlier Monday by Reuters, which cited an unidentified USA official.

China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.

Shortly after that operation, China accused the U.S. of trespassing in its territorial waters - and said it had deployed missiles "capable of targeting medium and large ships".

Navy spokesman Commander Clay Doss told USA media: "All operations are designed in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows". Clay Doss, a spokesman for USA 7th Fleet.

Freedom-of-navigation operations occur frequently, but they have not stopped China from bolstering its position militarily in the South China Sea.

Beijing and Washington remain at loggerheads over United States allegations for China's militarisation of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.

Beijing sharply criticised the operation.

The Navy sent USS Preble, left, and USS Spruance, right, near the Chinese manmade island of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

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"The relevant actions of the US warships violated Chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace, security, and order in the relevant sea areas", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday, South China Morning Post reported. Beijing rejected the ruling and the authority of the tribunal.

In January, the destroyer USS McCampbell sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands.

The Chinese military has since bolstered its presence in the region through deploying surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, jamming technology, and other defence systems to Chinese-occupied territories.

China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes in the South China Sea over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves. American warships have also sailed through the strait separating mainland China from democratically run Taiwan.

'The relevant actions of the USA warships violated Chinese sovereignty, and undermined peace, security, and order in the relevant sea areas, ' Hua said.

The US Navy, however, has stressed that it's not going anywhere.

"If we're close to a deal, where we think we can make a real deal".

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