The USS Milius challenged China's claims to waters near the Paracel Islands through a "freedom of navigation operation."

China, Taiwan, and Vietnam all claim the Paracel Islands, which are a group of small atolls in the South China Sea.

The US Navy's move comes after China claimed to have driven the same warship away from Beijing-claimed waters in the South China Sea.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea as part of its territorial waters and has militarized many disputed islands and inlets.

The territorial dispute over the South China Sea involves several countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The Philippines won a UN tribunal ruling in 2016 over a dispute with China concerning the Spratly Islands, but China rejected the decision and built military bases on the disputed islands.

China's Defense Ministry accused the US of violating its sovereignty, security, and international law in response to the USS Milius' move.