"Running amok is risky," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing Wednesday, Reuters reported.
"China won't be scared by any so-called military ship or aircraft and we will only even more staunchly [take] all necessary steps to defend the country's sovereignty and security, to protect the peace and stability of the South China Sea region," Hua added.
The South China Sea contains many islands, reefs and shoals presently controlled and occupied by the People's Republic of China but also claimed by several other nations include Vietnam, Taiwan, Cambodia, Brunei and Philippines. Aside from the enormous amount of international sea trade that passes through the area, it is also believed to contain large amounts of as-yet unexplored oil and natural gas deposits.
"Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion," Mattis said last week at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a meeting of defense ministers in Singapore organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
Mattis also said that the United States will continue to expand and deepen its connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region.