The U.S. Navy said its guided-missile destroyer USS Milius conducted a navigational rights and freedoms mission in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands on Monday.
The announcement came as China’s military simulated precision strikes against Taiwan in military drills around the island amid growing tensions between China and the U.S. in the region.
The U.S. Navy said the operation by the destroyer was consistent with international law.
“At the conclusion of the operation, USS Milius exited the excessive claim area and continued operations in the South China Sea,” a U.S. Navy statement said. “This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea.”
Last month, China and the U.S. sparred over the movement of the USS Milius, which China said entered its territorial waters in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands.
China claims vast swathes of the area that overlap with exclusive economic zones of various countries, including the Philippines. Trillions of dollars in trade flow every year through the waterway.