Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui summoned US Ambassador to China Max Baucus to raise Beijing’s concerns at the actions of a US destroyer that entered disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea, local media reported Tuesday.

BEIJING (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, the USS Lassen destroyer sailed through the disputed waters in the South China Sea in the first of a series of planned patrols challenging Chinese territorial claims. The US warship reportedly passed the Subi and Mischief reefs.

The US actions are “highly irresponsible,” Zhang said, as quoted by the China Daily newspaper.

The diplomat urged the US side to value the positive development of bilateral relations and to refrain from actions that threaten the sovereignty and security of China, the media outlet reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that China considers the passing of a US warship within 12 nautical miles of the artificially created islands in the Spratly archipelago to be illegal and a violation of China’s sovereignty.

Beijing has been constructing artificial islands on the coral reefs of the Spratly Islands, a group of more than 750 islands and reefs, over the past few months, some with defense facilities. China claims sovereignty over the land and surrounding territorial waters.

The United States does not recognize the Chinese claims of sovereignty over the man-made islands, and has repeatedly raised concerns over Beijing’s activities in the region.

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