"The Department of Defense is concerned about the People’s Republic of China (PRC) decision to conduct military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on July 1-5," the release said on Thursday. "The designated area where the exercises are due to take place encompass contested waters and territory."
The Pentagon said China's military drills will further destabilize the situation in the South China Sea and violate an international pact to avoid activities that would escalate disputes in the region.
The Asia-Pacific region has several territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas that involve Brunei China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
China considers the Spratly archipelago to be its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling, which said there was no legal basis for China's maritime claims. The arbitration proceeding was initiated by the Philippines in January 2013.