China has complained about an “illegal” entry by a US warship into areas claimed by the People’s Republic in the South China Sea.

The USS Gabrielle Giffords approached the Ren’ai Reefs, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, without authorization, a spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army said. The USA would have violated China’s security and sovereignty and disrupted stability in the region. The US Navy did not initially comment when asked.

There has been a dispute between Beijing and the Philippine government for decades over the area of ​​widely scattered reefs and islands west of the Philippines and far south of China. The countries’ patrolling coast guards regularly carry out dangerous maneuvers there.

The armed forces of the United States, an ally of the Philippines, and China also accuse each other of dangerous behavior in the region. A recurring theme on one of the reefs is an old warship from the Second World War, which the Philippines ran aground there in 1997 as an outpost to secure its sovereignty. The Philippines accuses China of hindering supplies for the “Sierra Madre” in need of repairs.

Beijing regularly criticizes the passage of US warships through the strait between Taiwan and China or in the South China Sea. After the meeting between US President Joe Biden and China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping in mid-November, there was hope that the two superpowers could come closer together. On Friday, the spokesman for China’s Defense Ministry said that it was talking to the US military again about establishing an exchange that had been lying idle for a long time.