Asian countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei claim the Paracel Islands as their territory. It is believed that these archipelagos have valuable oil and gas deposits.
"The Paracel Islands are indisputably Chinese territory, and our military has every right to conduct maneuvers within the country's sovereignty," China's Foreign Affairs Ministry Wang Yi responded.
The U.S. Navy presence in the South China Sea "is the only cause of destabilization in the region," China's Foreign Affairs Ministry added.
Over the past few years, Beijing has built artificial islands and deployed military infrastructure in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos. The U.S. administration is concerned about China's growing influence in the region.