File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
A US military plane was issued a series of warnings from Chinese military as it was flying close to the disputed territory over the South China Sea.
Reports say that the plane, P-8A Poseidon, was conducting a reconnaissance when the Chinese military told them that they were inside Chinese territory and was asked to "leave immediately" to avoid any misunderstanding.
According to media reports, six warnings were issued to the plane flying at the altitude of 16,500 feet.
However, the US Navy refused to back down and responded the same every time.
"I am a sovereign immune United States naval aircraft conducting lawful military activities beyond the national airspace of any coastal state," the crew replied.
"I am exercising these rights guaranteed by international law, I am operating with due regard for the rights and duties of all states," crew added.
Lieutenant Lauren Callen who was leading the US Navy crew was quoted saying, "It was surprising to see airports in the middle of the ocean".
Report further say that a CNN journalist was aboard the plane when it flew past four major artificial islands stockpiled with military structures, buildings and aircraft giving a view of Chinese militarization in the region.
The US Navy jet flew past four key artificial islands in Spratly chain, where China has built up fortifications: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Johnson Reef and Mischief Reef CNN report said.
Six countries including Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, Japan have been competing claims in the sea, but tensions have increased in recent years as China has backed claim with island-building and patrols.
China claims almost the entire sea and has been constructing artificial islands capable of hosting military bases in the waters, ratcheting up tensions with rival claimants and the US, the traditionally dominant naval power in the area.
Pentagon officials have long complained as well that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and its use of South China Sea islands to gather intelligence. Following which Washington also stepped up naval patrols in the sea angering China.