The USS McCampbell destroyer conducted a "freedom of navigation" operation within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands five weeks ago to "challenge excessive maritime claims", according to the Pacific Fleet, which Beijing also protested.
The two sides are trying to hammer out a deal ahead of the March 1 deadline when USA tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports are scheduled to increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.More news: NASA administrator says agency plans to go to the moon and stay
China's foreign ministry expressed anger on Monday after the warships sailed in the disputed South China Sea. The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Vietnam.
Beijing asserts almost all of the South China Sea as its territorial waters, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts.
"All operations are designed in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows", Doss said, adding "that is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe". In January, China urged the U.S.to halt "provocative actions" after a USA guided-missile destroyer conducted sailed near the Paracel Islands, which are occupied by China and claimed by Vietnam.More news: Second measles case of the year reported in B.C.
Tensions came to the fore in September, when a Chinese warship and US destroyer came within 45 yards of collision in the waters, renewing concerns about the risk of US-China confrontation.
The relevant action by the US side infringed upon China's sovereignty, and undermined the peace, security, and order of the relevant waters, Hua said, adding that China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard itself.
An unnamed USA official told Reuters on Monday that the two destroyers conducted a freedom of navigation exercise - the second by the U.S. in the region this year - within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, where Beijing has purportedly built military facilities. The United States has criticised China for militarising the islands by constructing long runways used by jet fighters and deploying anti-aircraft missiles.More news: Uighur musician 'tortured to death in China camp', campaigners claim
It has claimed the United States is responsible for ratcheting up war fears in the region by sending warships and military planes close to territory China believes it is entitled to.