Beijing military chiefs: USA warships 'seriously infringed' on China

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CHINA'S Defense Ministry says it will increase its "combat readiness" on Sunday after two USA navy warships entered the disputed waters of the South China Sea on a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP).

According to Reuters, which first reported on the operation, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Higgins, and a cruiser, USS Antietam, sailed within 12 nautical miles of islands controlled by China in the disputed Paracel Islands.

The two ships passed within 12 miles of four islands - Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody - according to a U.S. defence official.

China's Ministry of National Defense said the United States "seriously violated China's sovereignty" and undermined peace, security and mutual trust between the two nations and their militaries.

Ships and aircraft were sent to the scene within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands to warn the USA warships to leave, with the ministry adding that its resolve to defend its land and waters was "unswerving".

"We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future", the U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a released statement.

Chiefs from the Pentagon have continuously accused China of building up it military power in the South China Sea to gain control of oil and gas rich region.

The Pentagon cited strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to contested areas in the Spratly Islands. China's behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise'.

'China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilize the region, ' Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan said.

State-run news agency Xinhua said the two vessels were "expelled" from the waters.

Pompeo did not comment on the matter, saying only that the pair had had a "good discussion" about American concerns of militarization of the South China Sea.

Experts believe China - North Korea's largest trading partner - was behind the recent derailment of the June 12 summit between President Donald Trump and the North's leader, Kim Jong Un.