Since the People's Liberation Army Daily (the Chinese newspaper which reported the drills) did not elaborate on the specific timings of the drills or which part of the sea they would be carried out and which ships would take part in them, there is no way of telling if the drills were performed at the same time as the "freedom of navigation" operation.
"Freedom of navigation", encoded as article 87 (1) a of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is a principle of customary worldwide law that says operations carried out by a ship that bears the flag of a sovereign state, will not be interfered with by any other state, barring certain specified exceptions.
Neither China's Foreign nor Defence Ministries immediately responded to a request for comment.
Such actions cause forces from both countries to come into close proximity and could easily cause a misjudgment or accident, and create serious political and military provocation for China, the ministry said. "By repeatedly sending military ships into these areas without authorization, the USA has seriously harmed Chinese sovereignty and security, violated basic rules of global relations, and harmed regional peace and stability", the spokesman said. "The Chinese military is firmly opposed to it".
China could adopt a stronger approach should such an event occur again, Li argued, describing the tensions between the two countries in the South China Sea as bordering on "extreme danger".
The ministry claimed that by carrying out these so-called infringements, the USA had "damaged the atmosphere of military-to-military relations between the two countries, caused close encounters by air and naval forces, which could easily trigger miscalculation or even accidents at sea or in air". Nicole Schwegman, US Pacific Fleet spokeswoman, said.
Remington files for bankruptcy amid 'Trump slump' in gun sales
Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington and obtained by SGB Media, the company plans to exit bankruptcy proceedings as soon as May 3. Remington and other gunmakers have suffered from slumping sales in the past year as fears of stricter gun laws have faded.
The dispute in the South China Sea involves territorial claims by China as well as Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia.
In October 2017, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Chafee also sailed close to the Paracels, provoking a stern reaction from the Chinese Defense Ministry.
The U.S. has repeatedly objected to Beijing's expansion in the region and its building of artificial islands with military facilities, and insisted on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea's waters.
"The objective is to test and improve the training level of the troops and comprehensively improve the ability to win", state media said.
A rig, the Ensco 8504, was scheduled to depart from Singapore for the drill site on Thursday, the report said, citing an unnamed energy industry source.
China has lodged a protest with the United States after an American destroyer USS Mustin sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea.