"Its behaviour has violated the Chinese law and relevant global law, infringed upon China's sovereignty, disrupted peace, security and order of the relevant waters and put in jeopardy the facilities and personnel on the Chinese islands, and thus constitutes a serious political and military provocation".
China and the U.S. maintain different interpretations on worldwide law as applied to the operation of warships, and Beijing has ignored a Hague arbitration court's ruling that invalidated much of its South China Sea claim. That occurred around Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago, which is claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.
The operations, according to anonymous officials, were meant to challenge China's claim on trade routes now contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
The photo shows recent progress made by China in its land reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
Thursday's freedom of navigation operation was the third of its kind carried out by the United States since President Donald Trump took office in January.
Major construction at three of China's large man-made islands in the Spratly's has wrapped up, according to a separate AMTI report from March, allowing Beijing to deploy fighter jets and mobile missile launchers to the area at any time.
The operation was illegal and carried out without permission from Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.
The U.S. Navy challenged China's vast claims to the South China Sea on Thursday, Navy officials revealed. China has reportedly installed a missile defense system on the new islands.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing over how to thwart North Korea's nuclear ambitions rose as the United States sent a navy destroyer into waters claimed by China.
"China has the firm determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime interests", Geng said.
Although China opposes inclusion of the sea disputes in global conferences, partly to prevent the U.S. and other Western governments from intervening, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Japan's new top diplomat, Taro Kono, expressed concern over aggressive actions in the waters.
"All operations are conducted in accordance with worldwide law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever global law allows", she said.
"They called and said 'Please turn around, you are in our waters, '" he said. Reuters reported that $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes through the disputed trade route each year, and the Trump administration vowed to conduct more robust operations in the region in order to maintain these trade routes.
However, on Friday, China's Foreign Ministry protested against the voyage of the United States naval vessel in what it keeps claiming are Chinese territorial waters.