China said on Friday it would not stand for violations of its territorial waters in the name of freedom of navigation, as the United States considers sailing warships close to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea. A U.S. defense official told Reuters the United States was mulling sending ships within the next two weeks to waters inside the 12-nautical-mile zones that China claims as territory around islands it has built in the Spratly chain.

China claims most of the South China Sea, though Washington has signaled it does not recognize Beijing’s territorial claims and that the U.S. navy will continue to operate wherever international law allows.“We will never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the Spratly Islands, in the name of protecting freedom of navigation and overflight,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing. CONTINUE