China said two of its warships "jumped into action" on Thursday (10 August) to warn the US Navy to stop provoking Beijing in the name of its "freedom of navigation operation" near a disputed South China Sea island.
"The US destroyer's actions have violated Chinese and worldwide laws، as well as severely harmed China's sovereignty and security،" Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a statement.
In July, a US Navy destroyer sailed within 12 miles of another disputed island in the South China Sea claimed by China, also a "freedom of navigation exercise". Throwing open its strategic South Sea Fleet (SSF) base in the coastal city of Zhanjiang to a group of Indian journalists for the first time, People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) officials say the Indian Ocean is a common place for the worldwide community.
"China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests", Geng said.
China's Defence Ministry said it expressed its strong opposition to the United States for the "show of force".
The South China Sea is filled with small islands, reefs and shoals and there are many territorial disputes between countries in the area.
China's defence ministry said two Chinese warships "jumped into action" and warned the U.S. ship to leave, labelling the move a "provocation" that seriously harms mutual trust.
"China's own reclamation work did not end in mid-2015 with the completion of its artificial islands in the Spratlys".
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However, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said China was continuing to reclaim land in the Paracel Islands to the north of the Spratlys.
Japan worries that China's probing of its air defences is part of a push to extend its military influence in the East China Sea and western Pacific, where Japan controls an island chain stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) south towards Taiwan.
"The Philippines has no objection regarding the presumed innocent passage of seacraft and that there is of course the freedom of navigation", Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a Palace press briefing.
Although China opposes inclusion of the sea disputes in worldwide conferences, partly to prevent the U.S. and other Western governments from intervening, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japan's new top diplomat, Taro Kono, expressed concern over aggressive actions in the waters.
The Paracels play "a key role in China's goal of establishing surveillance and power projection capabilities throughout the South China Sea", the report said.
With joint efforts of China and ASEAN members, the current situation in the South China Sea has stabilised and maintains a sound development momentum, he said, noting the recent China-ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting adopted the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC). It is also believed to be rich in natural resources, including oil. An estimated $5 trillion in annual trade passes through the waterway.
The new development comes amid Washington's attempts to get Beijing on board for more global pressure on North Korea over its development of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles.