China says it will take "necessary steps" to guarantee its sovereignty after a US warship sailed near a group of disputed islets in the South China Sea last week.
The country's foreign minister Lu Kang said on Saturday that the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, reached 12 nautical miles from Huangyan Island, also known as Scarborough Shoal. Both China and the Philippines claim ownership of the islet.
"The Chinese navy conducted identification and verification procedures in accordance with the law and warned the US vessel to leave," Lu said, according to South China Morning Publica.
"China is very dissatisfied with [US action] and will take the necessary measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty."  Two American officials confirmed the trip to The Guardian, and added that "the patrol was in line with international law and was an 'innocent passage', in which a vessel of war effectively recognizes a territorial sea crossing rapidly, without stopping. "
The Pentagon did not comment on this specific patrol, but the US Navy. UU It affirms that it has the right to carry out the so-called freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
Tensions over China's aggressive stance towards its territoriality in the South China Sea has altered its relations with the United States and its allies.