Sending a warship to another country's territorial waters without notice is hardly the right thing to do, regardless protocols and codes.
The Saturday maneuvers of a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer 12 nautical miles off Zhongjian Dao, Xisha Islands, was "deliberate provocation", according to China's Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun.
It also drew angry outcry from Chinese on the Internet, with many comments much more radical than the official response. The Chinese people have every reason to feel offended.
Just three days earlier in a meeting with visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the United States to be objective, fair and reasonable in the way it deals with the South China Sea issue.
And then came the warship. If this is the U.S. way of being objective, fair and reasonable, there must be serious doubts about its sincerity to settle the issue and maintain regional peace.
Freedom of navigation and flyover in the South China Sea has never been a problem and will not be a problem. China has the same concerns as other countries, as most of its merchandise is transported through these waters.
More than 100,000 vessels of various countries sail through the South China Sea with no incident every year. There is no logic that sending a warship to challenge China's sovereignty and security will help to the situation, unless, peace and stability in the South China Sea is not the U.S. objective.
The South China Sea is decidedly not U.S. waters. The U.S. claims to be a bystander, but judging from its recent warship and aircraft activities, it is a bystander too eager to become involved.
Since the 1970s, the U.S. has asserted its maritime power through the Freedom of Navigation program. It has been accustomed to hegemony and power politics, but the times have changed. Compromising sovereignty and security of another country under the name of freedom has lost its facade.
Also since the 1970s, countries including the Philippines and Vietnam have invaded and occupied islands and reefs in Chinese waters, bringing about the current disputes.
As a de facto victim in the South China Sea, China has exercised great restraint in keeping peace in the area.
China strives to resolve disputes with countries directly through negotiation and consultation. Peace in these waters is the responsibility of China and ASEAN.
China's fundamental goal is to make the South China Sea a place of peace, friendship and cooperation, in line with the diplomatic vision of peaceful development.
Are peace and stability also in the interests of the United States? Its military activities tell everything.
As long as Washington stops operating under a Cold War mentality and stops manipulating the issue to inhibit China's development, China will welcome its constructive role.
With such provocation, the U.S. will find itself alienated from extensive public opinion in China, and its commitment to peace and stability will be seriously eroded. People around the world have sharp eyes for that.