The United States has reportedly sent the USS McCampbell, a guided-missile destroyer, through disputed waters that China claims as its own.
The USS McCampbell reportedly sailed pass the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. According to the CIA World Factbook, China has occupied these islands since 1974, but they are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry, said in a briefing that the U.S. had violated Chinese law.
Rachel McMarr, a spokeswoman for the Pacific Fleet, told Reuters that the USS Campbell was involved in a "freedom of navigation" operation in order "to challenge excessive maritime claims" from China. McMarr insisted that the move was not intended to make a political statement.
This confrontation comes during the second day of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.
In September, the Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized the United Kingdom after a British Royal Navy warship, the HMS Albion, navigated the same area near the Paracel Islands.
"The Chinese side strongly urges the British side to immediately stop such kinds of provocative actions," the ministry said in an official statement it faxed to Reuters at the time.
This is the second incident in a week
In what Business Insider reports as a separate incident, Chinese Central Television aired a clip on Friday of a Chinese pilot demanding in English that an unidentified aircraft identify itself.
"This is China air force," he said, according to the South China Morning Post. "You have entered the Chinese ADIZ. Report your nationality ID and purpose of the flight."
ADIZ stands for "air defense identification zone," an area which China has declared vital to its national security. However, these zones are not recognized by an international treaty.
Both the zone the USS McCampbell entered and the ADIZ in which the Chinese pilot encountered an unidentified aircraft, are claimed by China but contested by other countries. Japan, South Korea, and the United States have refused to recognize this particular ADIZ.