Beijing has blasted Tokyo for hyping the exercises, calling them part of "regular" drills, while Japan has said it will keep a vigilant eye on the "expanding and increasing" actions of the Chinese military in the area.
China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated on Thursday.
"In other words, from our side, we find no objection".
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a stark warning to North Korea on Wednesday, telling Pyongyang that it should stop any actions that would lead to the "end of its regime and the destruction of its people".
"In the long run, the situation may evolve into something similar to the Korean crisis, with systematic escalations or a direct standoff".
Cayetano, who was the unsuccessful running-mate of Duterte in a presidential election in May 2016, tried to downplay the necessity for mentioning the issue, asserting that all the claimants to South China Sea territory are engaged in one form of reclamation or another. "This is not good", Terekhov pointed out.
The muscle-flexing "promotes regional militarisation and can very easily trigger accidents in sea and air", Wu said. "It doesn't want one nation to become dominant in the dispute and it wants more checks and balances in the region - that's why it is actively cooperating with the U.S.". During the presidency of Barack Obama, Washington made attempts to pull out of some of the agreements [concerning security in the region]. "Hindi naman nila sinabi na ititigil ang pag-i-improve sa pag-reclaim tulad ng Subi Reef Mischief Reef at isa pa, we will leave it at that, hindi naman natin sila mautusan na tigilan nila", Lorenzana said. "But this is the main danger of this geopolitical whirlpool", Terekhov said.
The "USS John S. McCain" is named after the father and grandfather of Senator John McCain, both of whom served as admirals in the US Navy.
Beijing has been sensitive to any further engagement by what it calls "outside parties" in the South China Sea, especially after a ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague past year that invalidated Beijing's claims to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
"The US destroyer's actions have violated Chinese and global laws, as well as severely harmed China's sovereignty and security", the ministry said late on Thursday in a statement on its website.
Japan claimed in its defence white paper that "China has tried to change the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea based on its own assertions, and this has become a common concern of the region and the world at large". It also gives states an exclusive economic zone up to 200 nautical miles from their coastline meaning that most of the Spratly Islands are in the territorial waters of the Philippines and Malaysia.
China has refused to recognise a ruling by The Hague in 2016 that its historic "nine-dash line" claim to sovereignty over numerous islands is invalid, and is trying to reach its own settlement with rival claimants.