Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing that the ships entered the waters without China's permission. In late September, the USS Decatur also sailed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the Spratly Islands as part of a similar freedom of navigation operation.
U.S. negotiators were in Beijing on Monday for another round of talks on a trade deal with the clock ticking towards a March 1 deadline set by President Donald Trump. Beijing says almost all of the South China Sea is its territory, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim it partly. The US labelled the Chinese warship's actions unsafe and unprofessional, while Beijing said the US was threatening the safety and sovereignty of China.
An unnamed U.S. official told Reuters on Monday that the two destroyers conducted a freedom of navigation exercise - the second by the United States in the region this year - within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, where Beijing has purportedly built military facilities.More news: Jennifer Lopez Defends Grammys Motown Tribute: "I’m Just Very Humbled"
Hua said the warships also neared the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys, which is under Philippines control.
China's foreign ministry expressed anger on Monday after the warships sailed in the disputed South China Sea. She argued that her nation has "always respected and safeguarded freedom of navigation and flight based on global laws in the South China Sea, but resolutely opposes any country falsely using these [to] harm the sovereignty and security of coastal countries".
Tensions have been high for years between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea, with the USA regularly drawing Chinese ire.More news: Mumps confirmed in 7 detainees at Houston ICE facility
Speaking about the most recent operation, Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, told CNN that the action was meant to "to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by worldwide law".
The rising military tension comes against the backdrop of an increasingly bitter trade war between China and the US.
She urged the United States to cease the "provocative actions".More news: Kamala Harris: I’ve Smoked Weed and ‘I Did Inhale’
China firmly opposed the relevant action and urged the U.S.to immediately stop its provocations, Hua stressed.