BEIJING, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- China is returning like for like after U.S. officials said warships would be dispatched near areas of land reclamation in the South China Sea.
Without mentioning the United States by name, Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday "some countries" were flexing "their military muscles again and again," the BBC reported.
Hua's remarks come a day after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said U.S. ships and aircraft would fly wherever international law allows for movement and despite China's territorial claims, USA Today reported.
"Make no mistake, we will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits...We will do that in the time and place of our choosing," Carter said in Boston after signing a defense cooperation statement with Australia.
The Pentagon has conducted "freedom of navigation operations" around the world to challenge the claims of 18 nations in 2014 alone, but has not yet challenged the Chinese-built islands in the disputed Spratlys by sailing at least 12 miles outside the islands.
The United States and China have been at odds over the reclamation, and China has claimed the islands are not being militarized despite evidence from satellite images indicating the construction of airstrips or runways.
Hua responded to Carter's comments on Wednesday and said some countries have deployed "offensive weaponry," but did not mention the United States by name.
China also is under criticism from Vietnam for allegedly building two lighthouses in the Spratlys. Australia agreed Tuesday to enhance joint training with U.S. troops in the region.