The U.S has dared China as its USS John S McCain Naval warship passed close to an artificial reef created by China in the South China Sea, prompting a protest from China.
The ship entered the Meiji Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands on Thursday.
Beijing protested on Friday, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The operation was illegal and carried out without permission from Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.
He added that the Chinese Navy identified the warship, warned and expelled it.
“Such a move severely undermines China’s sovereignty and security and severely endangers the safety of frontline personnel of both sides,” he said.
But Nicole Schwegman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that US forces operated in the Asia Pacific region on a daily basis.
“All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” she said.
“That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe.”
An international tribunal refuted China’s claim to a large swathe of the South China Sea in 2016 in a case brought by the Philippines, though Beijing has rejected the ruling.
The warship spat comes as a war of words between the U.S. and North Korea escalates and President Donald Trump pushes China to do more to reign in Pyongyang’s threats.