“The serious violation of China’s sovereignty and security by the United States is further ironclad evidence that it is pursuing ‘navigational supremacy’ and building up the ‘militarization of the South China Sea,'” command spokesman Tian Junli said.
“This fully demonstrates that the US is the ‘creator of security risks in the South China Sea’ and the ‘biggest disruptor’ to peace and stability in the South China Sea.
“Troops in theater remain on high alert at all times and resolutely protect national sovereignty and security and peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
The USS Seventh Fleet confirmed that the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper had sailed near the Paracel Islands under “international law”, saying the operation was routine and safe.
“For more than a century, US forces have operated daily in the South China Sea. They routinely operate in close coordination with like-minded allies and partners who share our commitment to sustaining a free and open international order that promotes security and prosperity,” the Seventh Fleet said.
“All of our operations are conducted safely, professionally, and in accordance with customary international law. These actions demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows – regardless of the location of excessive maritime claims and regardless of current events.”
The meeting near Paracels comes after the presidents of the two countries met in San Francisco in a broader effort to manage rising tensions between the two powers in the region between the US and China.
A summit between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden on November 15 yielded agreements to resume high-level military-to-military communications, including telephone communications between theater commands.
The US has been normalizing military operations in the South China Sea, often keeping Beijing on high alert and occasionally resulting in dangerous encounters.
Last month, a Chinese J-11 fighter jet came within three meters (10 feet) of a US B-52 strategic bomber over the South China Sea, causing a near-collision, the US military said.
The US has joined forces with its Indo-Pacific allies for joint military operations to counter what it calls Beijing’s aggression in the region.
Saturday’s action by the USS Hopper coincided with the start of a three-day joint patrol by Australia and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
Manila has been at the forefront of tensions with Beijing in contested waters, and encounters between the two have increased near islands such as the disputed Second Thomas Shoal and Scarborough Shoal.