A warship has sailed US near a disputed island in the South China Sea to challenge efforts to limit freedom of access, the Pentagon said.
The ship passed near Triton Island in the Paracel Islands, said a statement.
China, one of the countries that claim the islands, responded by accusing the US of violating its laws. China and other nations have competing claims in the South China Sea, which is rich in resources.
The USA. He says he does not take sides in these territorial disputes but want to safeguard access to important navigation route.
The mission to the fight against "excessive maritime claims of the parties that claim the Paracel Islands," the Pentagon said.
"This operation defied attempts of the three claimants - China, Taiwan and Vietnam - to restrict the rights and freedoms of navigation," around the islands, said spokesman Captain Jeff Davis.
According to the statement, the destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island. No Chinese ships were in the area at the time, the Pentagon said.
But a Chinese Foreign Ministry accused the US of violating Chinese law "for entering Chinese territorial waters without permission."
The USA. He admitted that he had not notified any of the applicants before the mission, but this was "consistent with our normal process and international law".
In a previous operation "freedom of navigation", the US a destroyer sailed near the disputed Spratly Islands last year, an incident which also caused a protest from China.