OUTRAGED by the presence of a US warship 22km from of one its man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, Beijing dispatched jet fighters and its own ships to move the vessel on.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the US action on Tuesday threatened China's "sovereignty and security interests", Reuters reported.
However, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 22km is the territorial limit.
The Pentagon defended the movements of the William P Lawrence, a guided missile destroyer, saying the vessel had "exercised the right of innocent passage" at a high-tide feature occupied by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Aside from its efforts to restrict naval passage through the strategic waterway, China faces increasing criticism over its aggressive actions to stop foreign fishing fleets operating in waters it claims.
Philippine fishermen say they have been forced away from Scarborough Shoal by the Chinese coast guard, even though the closest Chinese island is more than 1000km away, the ABC reported yesterday.
Tensions are running high on the Yellow Sea, too, with Chinese fishing fleets regularly crossing North Korean's maritime border into South Korean waters.
Last month, the South Korean coast guard took possession of 13 illegal Chinese fishing boats and turned away more than 700.