Speaking at the same conference in Singapore, Lt Gen He Lei said, "Any irresponsible comments from other countries can not be accepted".
His broadside at a security summit in Singapore drew a sharp rebuke from a Chinese general, who lashed out at "irresponsible comments" on the contested sea and insisted Bejing was simply defending its territory.
"It's clear to me from the conversations I've had, not just the past week but beyond, that China's actions are increasingly alienating many countries because they threaten the ability of countries to determine their own future, to provide for their people", Thornberry said. Mattis responded by saying there is a "fundamental disconnect" between China's views on the waters and how worldwide tribunals view them.
Chinese foreign spokesperson responded to the USA accusation by saying the U.S.is like a robber playing a cop. Trump's recent tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have targeted allies in Europe, plus Japan, Canada and Mexico, while the U.S.is engaged in an escalating war of words with China, risking a full-blown trade war.
"Yet China's policy in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the openness our strategy promotes".
Without specifically mentioning the South China Sea, Williamson warned that "increasingly aggressive states infringing regional access, freedoms and security through coercion" are threatening the rules-based order. And he says the USA remains committed to ensuring free and open transit in the region.
The previous week the US had withdrawn an invitation for Beijing to participate in the exercise known as Rim of the Pacific.
China is deploying missiles in the disputed South China Sea to intimidate and coerce its neighbours, US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said.
Trump hits back at Trudeau's criticism of 'punitive' US metal tariffs
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that no reprisals over the measure will have an impact on the American economy. The administration is taking the action under a relatively obscure USA trade law meant to protect national security .
Speaking just 10 days before President Donald Trump is due to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mattis also said the United States military continues to support diplomats pushing for the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
But speaking at the same conference, China's Lt Gen He Lei said: "Any irresponsible comments from other countries can not be accepted". China protested the maneuver.
In recent years, the USA had sought to stabilize military relations with China, but the militarization of the islands has been a persistent point of conflict.
It has begun building military structures on disputed islands - much to the dismay of other Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The US cancelled China's participation in the multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval drills after China confirmed reports the People's Liberation Army had installed missile systems in the disputed Spratly chain.
At the same news conference, ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang also confirmed China's development of its latest-model type 055 guided missile destroyer, which weighs 10,000 tons and features both stealth design and a land-attack capability. China has not sent high-level officials to the three-day meeting, in an apparent attempt to deflect attention from its campaign to expand its sovereignty across virtually the entire South China Sea.
"We have seen those who wanted to dominate the region come and go, and we have been with you", Mattis said.
Despite his criticism, Gen Mattis added that the USA would "continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China" with "co-operation whenever possible".