On Monday, China called on the United States to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and avoid adding "new uncertainties" over Taiwan, during high-level talks highlighting the tension between the world's two major powers.  The remarks by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe to US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, told by a Chinese spokesman, came just two weeks after a White House senior official condemned Chinese "intimidation" in the crucial waterway.
It also came a day after Esper publicly accused Beijing of "increasingly feeling coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic goals" in the region.
During talks with closed doors on the side of a gathering of defense ministers in Bangkok, Wei Esper urged "to stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and not to provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea," spokesman Wu Qian said.
China claims almost all energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, where it has built artificial islands to establish military outposts. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea.
The United States accuses China of gathering its military to convene in the South China Sea and try to intimidate Asian neighbors.
China is upset by so-called "navigation freedom" operations by US vessels in the disputed seas.
Specifically asked what Wei wanted the United States to do differently, and whether it included stopping such freedom for navigation operations, Wu said: "We (call on) the US side to stop intervening in the South China Sea and stop military provocation in the South China Sea . "
Just as @iingwen names his running mate & the campaign shifts into high gear, #PLA sends his new 002 aircraft combat squad to #TaiwanStrait . # PRC intends to intervene in #Taiwan elections. Voters will not be intimidated! They say no to # China at the ballot box. JW
– 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) November 17, 2019
The two men also discussed Taiwan, a democratic autonomous island that China claims as its own, which China confirmed on Monday that its first domestically built aircraft have sailed through the Taiwan Strait in what it said was "routine" training.
Taiwan's Ministry of Defense said on Sunday that a group of Chinese ships led by the carrier were passing through the delicate sounding tail of vessels from the United States and Japan.
The carrier, launched in 2017, crossed the delicate waters on Sunday before entering the South China Sea for "scientific research tests and routine training," said Navy spokesman Cheng Dewei in an official social media account.
Cheng said it was "normal practice" for carriers being built to conduct cross-regional testing.
"It is not aimed at any specific goal and has nothing to do with the current situation," Cheng said without elaborating.
It did not mention the American and Japanese vessels.
Taiwan has accused the mainland, which considers the democratically controlled island a compelling province, of fear of the January presidential election.