Chinese and American officials began talks on Monday aimed at ending a bruising trade battle between the world’s two biggest economies, as Beijing complained over the sighting of a U.S. warship in what it said were Chinese waters. It was unclear if the ruckus over the warship might disrupt the working level talks being held at the Chinese Commerce Ministry. The two sides have provided scant information about the discussions. Both sides have expressed optimism over the potential for progress in settling their tariff fight over Beijing’s technology ambitions. Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday that Chinese military aircraft and naval vessels were dispatched to identify the U.S. vessel and warn it to leave the area near disputed islands in the South China Sea.
“We have made stern complaints with the U.S.,” Mr. Lu said. He said the warship, which he said was the destroyer the USS McCampbell , had violated Chinese and international law, infringed on Chinese sovereignty and undermined peace and stability. “As for whether this move has any impact to the ongoing trade consultations… to properly resolve existing issues of all kinds between China and the U.S. is good for the two countries and the world,” Mr. Lu said. But he added, “The two sides both have responsibility to create necessary and good atmosphere to this end.” A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. David Eastburn, said “The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.”