US aims to ‘stir up trouble’ in South China Sea
China rejects Turkey criticism on Uighurs
BEIJING, Feb 11: China accused the United States of trying to "stir up trouble" on Monday by sending two US guided-missile destroyers near disputed South China Sea islands.
The two warships sailed near the Beijing-claimed Spratly Islands earlier Monday as part of what Washington calls "freedom of navigation operations", Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily press briefing.
The US is "determined to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, create tension and undermine peace", Hua said. She urged the US to cease the "provocative actions".
The sail-bys -- conducted by USS Spruance and USS Preble -- occurred as both sides started crucial trade talks in Beijing this week, seeking to avoid an all-out trade war between the world's two biggest economies.
Beijing asserts nearly all of the South China Sea as its territorial waters, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts.
Meanwhile, China hit back on Monday at Turkish criticism over its treatment of Uighurs and denied Ankara's claim that a renowned poet from the Muslim minority had died in custody, calling it an "absurd lie".
Turkey's foreign ministry had released a statement on Saturday severely criticising China's mass detentions of its Turkic-speaking Uighurs, and claiming that poet Abdurehim Heyit had died serving an eight-year Chinese prison sentence imposed as punishment over "one of his songs". -AFP