USA warships again challenge Beijing's claims in South China Sea

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The latest talks kick off with working level discussions on Monday before high-level discussions later in the week.

The White House said there would be a preparatory meeting of senior officials beginning February 11 and the talks would include officials from the Agriculture, Energy and Commerce Departments. While those purchases will provide relief to USA farmers, there has been no breakthrough on the structural issues separating the two nations, such as industrial policy, government subsidies, protection of intellectual property or forced transfers of technology.

The same day the latest talks began, two USA warships sailed near islands claimed by China in the disputed South China Sea, a us official told Reuters.

If there's no deal by then, President Donald Trump has threatened to more than double the rate of tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports.

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Trade talks between the USA and China have resumed and China is reportedly upbeat. It has fast-tracked approval of a law that would ban theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers, but the question is how much more it can compromise.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also struck an upbeat tone about the talks, telling a news briefing: "We, of course, hope, and the people of the world want to see, a good result".

With less than a month before a March 1 deadline for either a deal or an increase in US tariffs, hardliners inside and outside the administration have expressed concern Trump is being outplayed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and seduced by what they see as empty promises.

Asked if the ships' passage would impact trade talks, Hua said that "a series of U.S. tricks" showed what Washington was thinking.

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Negotiators from the two countries are meeting this week in Beijing, with US officials pressing China to commit to deeper reforms to a state-driven economic model that they say hurts American companies.

The US sailed two guided-missile destroyers close to the disputed islands in the South China Sea on Monday to challenge China's excessive maritime claim, drawing the ire of Beijing which accused Washington of trying to "stir up trouble".

But US stock markets were less enthusiastic about prospects for a deal, with any optimism overshadowed by concerns about another government shutdown and a diminished 2019 US corporate earnings outlook. All three major indexes posted their biggest one-day gains for the month so far, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average snapping a four-day losing streak to rise 1.5 percent and the S&P 500 gaining 1.3 percent.

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