US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Singaporean Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen agreed on the deployment of a US P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft to Singapore this month, the Pentagon said in a press release on Monday.
"It is a calculated risk to remind China that it does not have an unlimited right to do what it wants in what the United States and its allies regard as international waters," Johnson told Sputnik.
The US deployment of the spy plane, Johnson explained, is not intended to heighten tensions with China but does represent "old school power projection" which runs the risk of harming the relationship between Washington and Beijing.
"If the roles were reversed and the United States was in the position of China we most certainly would interpret such action by the Chinese as a provocation and would push back," Johnson added.
In October, the naval destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of the disputed Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea, claimed by several regional powers, including China. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the incident was illegal and a violation of China's sovereignty.
The United States has repeatedly warned it does not recognize Chinese claims of sovereignty over the Spratly Islands. President Barack Obama has on several occasions called on China to halt its constriction activities in the region.
At the moment, the US military already conducts surveillance missions from Japanese and Philippine airfields, while continuing military patrols in the disputed waters.