Pentagon spokesman Dave Eastburn said the missile launch was near the Spratly Islands, roughly 1,000km (621 miles) south of Hainan in the South China Sea. Mr Eastburn said: “The Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands.” He added: ”What’s truly disturbing about this act is that it’s in direct contradiction to President Xi’s statement in the Rose Garden in 2015.
“President Xi he pledged to the US, the Asia-Pacific region, and the world, that he would not militarise those man-made outposts.”
At present China asserts control of more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, overlapping with claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
The Chinese navy section, called the Southern Theatre Command, demonstrated a show of strength with recent “live-fire drills” from its man made islands in the resource rich waters sandwiched between The Philippines, Vietnam and the Chinese mainland.
China’s military has defended its actions saying that they didn’t target any country and were not acting to achieve specific objectives.
READ MORE: Shockwaves sent through South China Sea as Japan gets involved
China fired at least one missile into the sea last weekend and was expected to continue testing until July 3, NBC News reported.
Anonymous US officials cited that the launch occurred while US President Donald Trump was in the region for a series of summits, including a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on resuming trade talks.
“The relevant report does not match the facts,” the Chinese Ministry of National Defence said in a fax to Bloomberg News.
It said the drill was a part of its annual training plan organised by the Southern Theatre Command.
The Chinese statement refers to an exercise “in nearby waters” of Hainan Island.
Records show the islands as inhabited at various times in history by Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen, and during the Second World War by troops from French Indochina and Japan.
However, there is no record of large settlements on the islands until 1956, when Filipino adventurer Tomás Cloma, Sr., decided to “claim” a part of Spratly islands as his own, naming it the “Free Territory of Freedomland”.
In 1987, China installed a small military structure on Fiery Cross Reef on the pretext of building an oceanic observation station and install a tide gauge for the Global Sea Level Observing System.
China has been enlarging their man made structures on the islands ever since.