For the umpteenth time in just a few months, China has called out the United States Navy for passing too close to an island they claim as their own in the South China Sea — a claim, however, that’s disputed by a handful of Asian countries including Vietnam and Taiwan.

This time, on Friday, it was an American missile destroyer that sailed near a supposed Chinese isle in what the Washington Post called the “latest assertion of U.S. naval freedom”.

More from the Post:

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the ship, the USS Curtis Wilbur, passed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, one of a series of coral islands and reefs known as the Paracel Islands …

“This operation was about challenging excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others, not about territorial claims to land features,” Davis said in a statement early on Saturday.

China’s Ministry of Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement the U.S. action “severely violated the law.”

“It damaged the peaceful, safe and good order in relevant waters and is not beneficial to regional peace and stability,” said Yang.

The United States, according to Pentagon chief Ash Carter, will continue to sail free all around the South China Sea. Why? Because they’re afraid that if they don’t, China will continue to build it up and own it. One study claimed that if the “People’s Republic” isn’t stopped, it’ll become “a Chinese lake”, in only a decade and a half (the report was conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, aka CSIS).

Additionally, America’s tinier Asian allies are relying/expecting Washington to keep the Chinese at bay in the name of security, economics and trade — among many others. This, of course, in spite of the risk of escalating military tension between the two superpowers.