China is currently conducting land reclamation and illegal construction on the Fiery Cross Reef.
Reuters quoted a statement of US Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban as saying that the destroyer’s maritime-freedom activity aims to "challenge excessive maritime claims" in the East Sea by a number of involved parties.
"These excessive maritime claims are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention in that they purport to restrict the navigation rights that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise," Urban said in an emailed statement.
Regarding the illegal activities of China in the East Sea, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Le Hai Binh reiterated Vietnam’s indisputable sovereignty over Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos.
Despite the protest and concern of Vietnam and the international community, China has continued to take actions which not only seriously violate Vietnam’s sovereignty but also increase militarisation in the East Sea and threaten peace and stability in the region as well as navigation and aviation freedom, safety and security in the East Sea, he said.
He affirmed that Vietnam respects nations’ right of harmless travelling in the sea in line with international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, saying that Vietnam hopes for practical contributions from countries to maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea.