The strategic waterway is claimed almost in its entirety by China, whose continued building of military and other installations on artificial islands and reefs there has unnerved the region and angered Washington.
During a round of high-level talks in Washington, the US and China aired in sometimes blunt terms many of their main differences, including a bitter trade dispute, freedom of navigation in Asia-Pacific waters and self-ruled Taiwan.
Mike Pence will say a Chinese naval vessel came within 45 yards (metres) of the USS Decatur "as it conducted freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, forcing our ship to quickly maneuver to avoid collision."
China’s claims in the South China Sea are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The British demonstrated that they do not recognize excessive maritime claims around the Paracel Islands.
A number of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have overlapping claims to islands in the sea, one of the world's busiest waterways. For years they have been discussing a pact to prevent an escalation of disputes.
Founded in 1967 in the Cold War era as a bulwark against communism, ASEAN has a bedrock principle of non-interference in each other's domestic affairs and decides by consensus, meaning even one member state can doom any proposal it deems offensive.
The United States and China have frequently sparred over who is militarising the South China Sea, with Beijing blaming tensions on actions such as the "freedom of navigation" operations carried out by the U.S. navy.
In a press briefing, China defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said they had noted that the United States had recently been "turning a blind eye to the facts and hyping up" the militarisation of the South China Sea.
Dharamsala, Feb 19 (ANI): Tibetans-in-exile on Friday criticised China’s move to deploy surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the South China Sea. The recent move by China stoked tensions between China and its Asian neighbours and the US. Tibetan government-in-exile spokesman Tashi Phuntsok said the move shows that China has imperial ambitions. He added that since there are claims and counter claims over South China Sea, which is an important sea route, international conflicts are bound to happen. Meanwhile, another Tibetan parliamentarian-in-exile Yeshi Phungstok said China might have maritime ambition to approach the Indian Ocean.