The USS John S McCain sailed within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands on Thursday as part of a "freedom of navigation" operation, which prompted the Chinese navy to warn off the US destroyer.
"McCain" illegally entered the waters near the reef and conducted a so-called "freedom of navigation operation" on Thursday without permission of the Chinese government, Xinhua quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang as saying.
The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, and comes as Trump is seeking China's cooperation to rein in North Korea.
They sought compliance with an arbitration ruling past year that invalidated China's claims in the South China Sea.
Geng said, "China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests".
If all-out war does break out between the U.S. and the hermit state, long-time Kim Jong-un ally China will be forced to pick sides.
An angry Beijing warned off a United States warship after it sailed near an artificial island in the disputed South China Sea in the latest operation aimed at loosening the Asian giant's grip on the strategic waterway.
China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" Friday, after a US warship sailed near an artificial island in the strategic South China Sea.
Quoting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the U.S. move was part of its right to freedom of navigation.
In defense of Cayetano, the DFA said that his statement regarding China's land reclamation activities must be taken "in its full context". "But China's own reclamation work did not end in mid-2015 with the completion of its artificial islands in the Spratlys", the think tank said on its website.
The United States, Australia and Japan have promised to continue "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea and called on Beijing to endorse a legally binding code of conduct over the disputed region.
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. It is also believed to be rich in natural resources, including oil.
Tensions have risen recently after North Korea carried out two nuclear tests past year and two ICBM tests last month, prompting a strong round of UN sanctions which angered Pyongyang who threatened to teach the United States a "severe lesson". An estimated $5 trillion in annual trade passes through the waterway.