A US Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China and two other states in the South China Sea on Saturday to counter efforts to limit freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said, prompting an angry reaction from Beijing.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said no ships from China's military were in the vicinity of the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur when it passed near Triton Island in the Paracel Islands.
The US Navy conducted a similar exercise in October in which the guided-missile destroyer Lassen sailed close to one of China's man-made islands, also drawing a rebuke from Beijing.