Beijing military chiefs: United States warships 'seriously infringed' on China

China aims to build a power grid to span the South China Sea

The Higgins - a guided-missile destroyer - and the Antietam - a guided-missile cruiser - were sent as part of what has been seen as an attempt by Washington to counter efforts by Beijing to limit freedom of navigation in its waters.

They carried out maneuvering-operations near Tree, Triton and Woody islands.

"The US has seriously violated China's sovereignty, undermined strategic mutual trust, and undermined peace and security in the South China Sea", Wu said, as quoted by the Japan Times.

Last week, Chinese bombers landed on islands and reefs claimed by the Philippines, prompting Manila to take "appropriate diplomatic action" on the matter.

The U.S. military did not directly comment on Sunday's operation, but said U.S. forces operate in the region daily. Earlier in the month, the United States also formally protested the deployment of missiles and radar equipment on three artificial islands China has built in the Spratly Islands.

"We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future", U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement.

Critics of the operations, known as a "freedom of navigation", have said that they have little impact on Chinese behaviour and are largely symbolic.

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Satellite photographs taken on May 12 showed China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody Island.

The move has been conducted several times in the past three years in defiance of China's claims it owns the disputed territory.

China's military took "immediate action" on Sunday against "unauthorized" sailing by USA warships in South China Sea waters claimed by Beijing.

Chiefs from the Pentagon have continuously accused China of building up it military power in the South China Sea to gain control of oil and gas rich region.

"China's continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region", a Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, said.

"All operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever global law allows".

State-run news agency Xinhua said the two vessels were "expelled" from the waters.

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