BEIJING, Nov 30 (Reuters) - China said on Friday said it had lodged "stern representations" with the United States after the U.S. Navy sailed a ship through the contested South China Sea, passing near islands claimed by China.
Tension between the two powers in disputed Asian waters comes as their relationship has been strained by a row over trade involving increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on billions of dollars worth of each other's imports.
The U.S. guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville sailed near the Paracel Islands on Monday to challenge China's "excessive maritime claims," the U.S. Pacific fleet said in a statement.
China foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, told a daily news briefing the U.S. ship had entered Chinese waters without permission and China had made its position known with its "stern representations."
The Chinese army said it had sent ships and planes to watch the U.S. ship and to warn it to leave.
Photos of the week: 11/23 - 11/30
Photos of the week: 11/23 - 11/30
A migrant girl from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America en route to the United States, cries after running away from tear gas thrown by the U.S. border control near the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen exits Federal Court after entering a guilty plea in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 29, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 26: In this handout provided by NASA, Mars InSight team members Kris Bruvold (L) and Sandy Krasner react after receiving confirmation that the Mars InSight lander successfully touched down on the surface of Mars, inside the Mission Support Area at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on November 26, 2018 in Pasadena, California. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to study the 'inner space' of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. (Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)
Pope Francis and Archbishop George Gaenswein share a laugh as a child plays with a Swiss guard after getting up to the area where the pontiff was sitting during his weekly general audience, in the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. Pope Francis has praised the freedom, albeit undisciplined, of a hearing impaired child who climbed onto the stage during his general audience to play. The Swiss Guards and Vatican gendarmes stood by Wednesday and gamely let the young boy run around Francis as monsignors read out his catechism lesson in various languages in the Vatican audience hall. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Kellie Pickler performs during the 86th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets Russia's President Vladimir Putin during the opening of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018 in this picture taken from video. Reuters TV Summit Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Two workers of Oshawa's General Motors plant embrace before their meeting with Jerry Dias, president of UNIFOR, the union representing the workers at the plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. General Motors will cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it abandons many of its car models and restructures to focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles, the automaker announced Monday. (Eduardo Lima/The Canadian Press via AP)
Colombian cataract patient Yolanda Pinedo waits to be flown by helicopter from the hospital ship USNS Comfort to Riohacha, Colombia, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. The USNS Comfort is docked off Colombia's coast near Venezuela and taking aboard hundreds of both Venezuelan and Colombian patients during its four-day mission to a region that has been an epicenter for migration in recent years. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
JACKSON, MS - NOVEMBER 27: U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) exits the stage after giving her victory speech during an election night event at The Westin Hotel, November 27, 2018 in Jackson, Mississippi. Hyde-Smith defeated Democratic candidate Mike Espy in Tuesday's U.S. Senate special runoff election in Mississippi. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman shovels snow around her stuck car during a snowstorm in Arlington Heights, Illinois, U.S. November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge pay tribute to those who were tragically killed in the helicopter crash on Saturday 27th October at Leicester City Football Club’s King Power Stadium on November 28, 2018 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Neil Mockford/FilmMagic)
Ukrainian soldiers pet a puppy as they control an area near the frontline with Russia-backed separatists in Shyrokyne, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. Russia and Ukraine are still reeling from their first overt military confrontation since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, a clash Sunday in the Kerch Strait near Russia-occupied Crimea where Russian border guards fired on three Ukrainian ships, seizing them and their 24 crew members. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Rosa Villa, 30, and her five-month-old son Esteban from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America en route to the United States, are pushed back from the border wall between the U.S and Mexico by Mexican police in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man dressed as a devil embraces a child as part of a tradition to determine if she had behaved well during the past year, inside of a sandstone cave in the village of Svitava near the town of Cvikov, Czech Republic, November 24, 2018. Picture taken November 24, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Grigory Broverman, a member of the Cryophile winter swimmers club, pours a bucket of cold water over his 9-year-old daughter Liza during a celebration of Polar Bear Day at the Royev Ruchey zoo, with the air temperature at about minus 5 degrees Celsius, in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A mudslide trapped several vehicles along Valley of the Falls Drive in Forest Falls in San Bernardino County, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. Forecasters say the weather system that has been raining all day on Southern California has developed instability and may produce thunderstorms. Mud and rock slides have also closed two mountain highways northeast of Los Angeles. (Stan Lim/The Orange County Register via AP)
Boxers Deontay Wilder, left, and Tyson Fury exchange words as they face each other at a news conference in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. The pair are slated to fight Saturday night for Wilder's WBC heavyweight title. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
California Highway Patrol police cars block the highway leading from Mexico into San Diego after the border between Mexico and the U.S. was closed in the San Ysidro neighborhood of San Diego, California, U.S. November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather for a formal group portrait to include the new Associate Justice, top row, far right, at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Seated from left: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. Standing behind from left: Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Elena Kagan and Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Maria Meza (C), a 40-year-old migrant woman from Honduras, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, runs away from tear gas with her five-year-old twin daughters Saira Mejia Meza (L) and Cheili Mejia Meza (R) in front of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Archaeologists remove the cover of an intact sarcophagus inside the tomb TT33 in Luxor, Egypt November 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: Carrying first lady Melania Trump's 'Be Best' initiative, the Red Room is decorated to 'celebrate children through the décor, which displays ways in which children can excel in their own path' at the White House November 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. The 2018 theme of the White House holiday decorations is 'American Treasures,' and features patriotic displays highlighting the country's 'unique heritage.' The White House expects to host 100 open houses and more than 30,000 guests who will tour the topiary trees, architectural models of major U.S. cities, the Gold Star family tree and national monuments in gingerbread. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
SANA’A, YEMEN – NOVEMBER 26: A medic gives a Yemeni child vaccination against polio during a vaccination campaign targeted more than 5 million children in the war-torn countryon November 26, 2018 in Sana’a, Yemen. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)
Youths pose for a photograph with Britain's Prince Harry during his visit to Circus Zambia in Lusaka, Zambia, November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The official White House Christmas tree is seen in the Blue Room during the 2018 Christmas Press Preview at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26: A man takes pictures in Times Square during a rain storm on November 26, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)
An RAF F-35B Lightning, a USAF F-15E Strike Eagle and a French Rafale fly over The English Channel in formation during the "Point Blank" exercise, after taking off from RAF Mildenhall, Britain, November 27, 2018. The French Air Force Rafale joined the exercise which has, until now, only included U.S. and RAF aircraft. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Syrian refugee children play at a new park designed also for people with various physical disabilities in the Al-Zaatari refugee camp, in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, November 27, 2018. Picture taken November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NEW YORK, Nov. 22, 2018 -- The balloon of Spongebob Squarepants is seen during the 2018 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, the United States, on Nov. 22, 2018. Despite frigid cold and strong winds, millions of people from New York and around the world lined the streets of Manhattan to watch the dazzling display of balloons and floats at the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. (Xinhua/Li Rui) (Xinhua/Li Rui via Getty Images)
A worker helps unload the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree as it arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. November 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Children play with tyres along a street in Dhaka, Bangladesh November 28, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 27: Reporters lean into a subway car while asking Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (R) questions following the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon in the U.S. Capitol November 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. Republican senators were joined by Vice President Mike Pence and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A doll belonging to a migrant, part of a caravan of thousands from Central America trying to reach the United States, is seen on the floor in a temporary shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, November 29, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, center right and musician Nick Jonas, center left, arrive at the airport in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, Thursday, Nov.29, 2018. The couple who in August announced on their respective Instagram accounts that they are engaged are reportedly here for their wedding. (AP Photo/Sunil Verma)
Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane arrives at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Eagleville, Pa., to begin serving a 10- to 23-month perjury sentence, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
KOCAELI, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 28: A drone photo shows the scene as search and rescue works are carrying out after a concrete block falls on workers during viaduct construction on the Gebze part of North Marmara Highway in Gebze district of Kocaeli, Turkey on November 28, 2018.
(Photo by Ibrahim Yozoglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A farmer listens to a speaker during a rally to protest soaring farm operating costs and plunging prices of farm produce, in New Delhi, India, November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A merry-go-round turns as the Christmas tree is illuminated after the opening of the traditional Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
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The Chancellorsville's voyage was the latest in what the United States calls freedom of navigation operations aimed at challenging what it sees as Chinese activity limiting freedom of movement in the strategic waters.
In particular, the United States has criticized China's construction of islands on tiny reefs and shoals and its installation of military facilities on them, including air strips and docks.
China claims "irrefutable" sovereignty over most of the South China Sea and the islands in it, and accuses the United States of raising military tension with its navy presence there.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam all claim parts of the waterway, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year. Taiwan also claims the waters.