The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) steams through the water during a cooperative deployment on April 18, 2019. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bryan Niegel)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said two of its warships sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Monday, a move that could anger Beijing at a time of tense relations between the world's two biggest economies.
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.
President Donald Trump dramatically increased pressure on China to reach a trade deal by announcing on Sunday he would hike U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods this week and target hundreds of billions more soon.
Chinese People's Liberation Army H-6 bombers fly around Taiwan in May 2018. (Military News Agency photo)
Chinese bombers and warships conducted drills around Taiwan on Monday, the latest military maneuvers near the self-ruled island that a senior U.S. official denounced as "coercion" and a threat to stability in the region.
In the latest show of military muscle in the South China Sea, the U.S. has apparently sailed its USS Wasp amphibious assault ship near a strategic reef claimed by Beijing and Manila that lies just 230 km (140 miles) from the Philippine coast.
A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flies the skies at the 2019 Australian International Aerospace & Defence Exposition and Airshow (AVALON 2019) in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, March 1, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)
B-52 bombers from Guam have trained with Air Self-Defense Force and Okinawa-based U.S. fighter jets in the Western Pacific, just days after China sent a total of six bombers and other aircraft through a key entryway into the Pacific for their own military exercises.