Beijing expresses its "resolute opposition" to the passage of two US guided-missile destroyers Preble and Chung Hoon near Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands, claimed by China in the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing on Monday.
"The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition", he said.
China's navy has as well called on US ships to leave the area and warned Washington to stop such provocative acts.
The development comes amid reports by the South China Morning Post that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will proceed with his trip to the United States this week for trade talks but is expected to shorten his Washington visit. Liu is reportedly set to leave Beijing on Thursday — three days later than scheduled — and leave DC a day later.
The news followed media speculation that he might call off this week's trade talks in light of comments by President Donald Trump that he would increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent starting Friday, as well as slap other Chinese products worth $325 billion with 25 percent tariffs.
The issue of the US military presence in the South China Sea region has long been one of the major flashpoints in US-China relations, along with the ongoing trade dispute, which has seen the two countries exchange several rounds of steep tariffs.
It has repeatedly demandsed that the United States "stop actions that undermine China's sovereignty and security interests", while Washington has claimed that it is conducting freedom of navigation operations.
American officials have expressed dismay at China's construction of industrial outposts and military facilities on artificial islands in the South China Sea, while Beijing has consistently stressed that it has the sovereign right to send troops to any part of its territory.