Beijing: "Resolutely opposing" US joint patrols with the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea, China on Friday said it has "poisoned" regional ties by stoking tensions over the strategic waters.
"This move by the United States and the Philippines has poisoned relations between countries in the region, aggravated regional disputes, triggered tensions and undermined peace and stability in the SCS (South China Sea)," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here.
The remarks came as Chinese Defence Ministry said the country's second-ranking general recently visited China's man-made islands in the SCS, in an act of defiance by China amid calls by the US and others to cease construction work that they say is raising tensions in the region.
Lu also challenged Washington to show one case when China interrupted civil navigation in the SCS - a major shipping lane rich in natural resources.
"On the safety and freedom of navigation, some US officials often replace concept in the argument. Are they talking about the safety and freedom of civil navigation for commercial purposes or that of military navigation?" he asked.
"If the answer is for civil navigation, we have asked the US side may times to name one example that the safety and freedom of civil navigation in this region has been affected since the South China Sea disputes emerged over 40 years ago.
"Yet the US has been unable to offer one single example up to now. Perhaps the US refers to the safety and freedom of military navigation, if so, countries of the region and many countries around the world all hope that international laws should be followed in this respect," he said.
Earlier, Chinese Ministry said the country expressed "resolute opposition against infringement of China's sovereignty and security by any country in any form."
"The military exchanges... Should not target a third party, not to mention supporting some countries to provoke China's sovereignty and security, flaring regional contradictions and damaging regional peace and stability," the Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying by state-run China Daily.
"The joint patrols between the United States and the Philippines in the SCS have led to militarisation in the region, which is harmful to regional peace and stability," said a separate statement of China's Defence Ministry.
The statement came after the US said yesterday it had launched joint SCS patrols with the Philippines and that 275 troops and five attack aircraft would remain in the Philippines temporarily.
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter confirmed in Manila yesterday that the US and the Philippines had already conducted such patrols.
Carter today visited the USS John C Stennis warship close to flashpoint waters of the SCS, in America's latest effort to show its commitment to maintaining security in the waters.
Reporting on the US-Philippines joint patrols, Global Times said the "US moves to include India and Philippines in mini NATO".