The US 7th Fleet denied Chinese claims in the South China Sea a day after China said it drove it away.
7th Fleet spokesman Lt. jg. Luka Bakic said the guided-missile cruiser USS Milius claimed navigational freedoms near the Paracel Islands.
The vessel's "freedom of navigation operation" challenged the PRC, Taiwan, and Vietnam's safe passing limits, according to Bakic. (FONOP).
The US statement questioned China's right to "straight baselines enclosing the Paracels"—seas between the islands despite being outside the 12-nautical-mile national waters limit.
China claims most of the South China Sea, including many remote islets and inlets that Beijing has armed.
Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines also claim the Spratly Islands.
Beijing has built military sites on the Spratlys' Nansha Islands, as it did in the Paracels, despite the UN order.
On Friday, China reacted angrily to the presence of the US warship near the islands it claims.
“The U.S. military has seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security and seriously violated international law,” Defense Ministry official Tan Kefei said.
In recent years, the South China Sea has emerged as a major potential flashpoint in the Asia Pacific.