"The USS John S. McCain entered the neighboring waters of relevant islands and reefs of China's Nansha Qundao without the permission of the Chinese government. … The relevant acts of the US warship violated Chinese laws and international law, severely undermined China's sovereignty and security," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a statement.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, such actions do not contribute to sustaining stability in the region, being the "biggest factor in the 'militarization' of the South China Sea."
"China has been unswervingly determined to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. The provocation by the US side has compelled the Chinese side to take measures to further enhance its capability to defend its territory," the spokesperson added.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Vladimir Terekhov, a Russian expert on the Asia-Pacific region, suggested that the current situation in the region risks further escalation.
"In the long run, the situation may evolve into something similar to the Korean crisis, with systematic escalations or a direct standoff. Tensions are mounting. This is a gradual process, and the problem is that the South China Sea is now becoming a geopolitical whirlpool sucking in more and more countries. This is not good," Terekhov pointed out.
The expert also shared his thought on the possibility of an open military confrontation in the South China Sea.
"The US is still not ready to give up showing its presence in this region. A number of bilateral alliances have been established there since the 1950s. During the presidency of Barack Obama, Washington made attempts to pull out of some of the agreements [concerning security in the region]. The move was opposed by many parties, including European allies, Japan and others, and the US stepped back. But this is the main danger of this geopolitical whirlpool," Terekhov said.
In July 2016, The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China has no rights for territorial claims in the region. According to the ruling, the disputed Spratly Islets are not an exceptional economic zone. China has not recognized the ruling.