China voiced strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition on Tuesday to a US warship"s intrusion into the waters of China"s islands and reefs in the South China Sea.
Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Tuesday the USS Decatur guided missile destroyer arbitrarily entered waters on Sunday off China"s islands and reefs in the South China Sea. He noted that a Chinese Navy vessel carried out identification and verification procedures in accordance with international law and warned the US vessel off.
China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters, Wu said.
However, the United States has time and again sent warships into waters near China"s islands and reefs in the South China Sea, gravely threatening China"s sovereignty and security, severely damaging relations between the two militaries and significantly undermining regional peace and stability, he said.
China respects and safeguards the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, but it resolutely opposes any illegal provocation in the name of "freedom of navigation", he said.
The Chinese military will carry out its defensive duties and continue to take all necessary measures to firmly safeguard the sovereignty and security of the country, as well as regional peace and stability, he added
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday that the US moves go against the common will of countries in the region and basic international norms.
With the joint efforts of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, the current situation in the South China Sea has continued to stabilize and get better, Hua said, while repeated US provocations under the pretext of the "freedom of navigation operations" have threatened peace and stability in the region.
China strongly urges the US to immediately correct its mistakes and stop such provocative operations, she said, adding that China will take all necessary measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and security.
In another development, Hua said the second round of the diplomatic and security dialogue between China and the United States will be postponed at the request of the US, but the two countries will maintain communications on the issue.
The two countries had planned to hold the second round of the diplomatic and security dialogue this month, but the US recently proposed postponing it, Hua said.
The two countries will continue communications on holding the second round of the diplomatic and security dialogue, she added.
The diplomatic and security dialogue is one of four high-level mechanisms established between the two countries. The first round of the China-US diplomatic and security dialogue took place in June last year.