China's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that it sent a warship, two fighter jets and a helicopter to warn the US destroyer away, calling the move a "provocation".
"The US destroyer's behavior violated Chinese law and relevant global law, severely harmed China's sovereignty and security interests, and threatened the lives of both sides' frontline personnel", said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
According to Reuters, the USS Chafee destroyer had sailed near the disputed Islands in the South China Sea for "freedom of navigation" operation.
"The US vessel action violated Chinese laws and relevant worldwide laws, undermined China's sovereignty and security interests", Hua said.
China on Wednesday protested the sailing of a U.S. Navy ship near its territorial claims in the South China Sea, saying it would continue to take measures to protect Beijing's interests in the vital waterway claimed by several nations.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee, seen here in 2012, sailed close to the islands but did not cross territorial boundaries.
The US does not recognize China's sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and says they are contested by Vietnam and Taiwan.
This comes after US President Donald Trump's requested China's cooperation in addressing North Korea's missile and nuclear programs during his UN speech during the General Assembly of the United Nations in September.
They said that the USS Chafee approached to a distant of 30 kms from the islands as part of a United States military strategy to "challenge Beijing's excessive maritime claims".
The US does not make any claims in the sea, but has always been taking the side of China's rival claimants in the regional disputes, which involve Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei.