The move angered Beijing at a time when the United States and China ton are locked in a trade war and are negotiating a deal ahead of a March 1 deadline when U.S. tariffs on $ 200 billion worth of Chinese imports are expected to increase to 25 per cent from 10 per cent.
The US Navy sent two guided-missile destroyers to challenge China in the South China Sea, and Beijing is outraged.
China's Foreign Ministry expressed anger on Monday after two USA navy ships sailed near islands claimed by Beijing in the disputed South China Sea.
The USS Preble was one of two warships conducting the operation; they were shadowed by Chinese assets, but the interactions were routine and uneventful, according to a US official.
The two warships entered China's territorial seas around the Nansha Islands without permission from the Chinese government, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news briefing.
China has laid claim to most of the South China Sea, which is used by several countries, including the USA, as an important shipping lane.
It was the second such USA operation in the South China Sea this year.
Another US warship, USS McCampbell, sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) of the Paracel Islands chain - north of the Spratly Islands - on January 7 during a previous round of trade talks between the two countries.
Beijing asserts almost all of the South China Sea as its territorial waters, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts.
Navy spokesman Commander Clay Doss told USA media: "All operations are designed in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever worldwide law allows".
"We conduct routine and regular freedom of navigation operations as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future", he said.
"The US action violated the Chinese laws and worldwide laws, infringed China's sovereignty, damaged regional peace, security, and order", Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said at the time.
It comes at a time of increasing tensions between the United States and China over an ongoing trade war.
Over the last five years China has rapidly built artificial islands housing significant military infrastructure on what had been low-lying reefs.
China defends its construction as necessary for self-defense and says it is the United States that is responsible for ratcheting up tensions in the region by sending warships and military planes close to islands Beijing claims.
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