The destroyer, however, did not violate the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits of the islands, according to a Reuters report, citing United States military officials.
The US Navy missile destroyer Chafee entered China's territorial waters near the islands on Tuesday and conducted a so-called "freedom of navigation" operation, without the permission of the Chinese government, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said yesterday.
"China urges the USA side to respect Chinese sovereignty and security interests as well as the efforts of regional countries to maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea", Hua said, calling for a stop of such wrong actions.
She also said that China already lodged a protest to the USA government. The Chinese military will further strengthen its naval and air defense capability to safeguard its sovereignty and security, the ministry said.
"We demand the USA side earnestly take steps to correct its mistakes", it added. The trip will include a stop in China, which Trump has been pressuring to do more to rein in North Korea.
U.S. ships have repeatedly sailed past the disputed islets in the South China Sea, triggering an angry reaction from China.
The Pentagon has said the United States would continue to carry out the freedom-of-navigation operations.
Experts and some US officials have criticized former president Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China's claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping. He will also visit South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
At a ceremony at the South Korean Embassy, Roh said he will explain to Beijing officials that Seoul's THAAD deployment is purely for defensive purposes against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and is not aimed at China.