Chinese naval officials say a U.S. naval ship that was involved in a standoff Sunday near China's southern coast was on a spying mission.
In an article carried Wednesday in the official China Daily newspaper, naval officials said it was clear the USNS Impeccable was not just a surveillance ship, but a spy ship.
Vice Admiral Jin Mao, the former vice-commander of China's navy told the newspaper that anyone with eyes could tell what the ship was up to.
Other naval officials noted that the Chinese navy was well within its rights to intercept the vessel. They also say the Impeccable's presence was a threat to Chinese vessels.
The U.S. government says Chinese vessels harassed the Impeccable Sunday while it was towing sonar equipment - that is designed to monitor submarines - in international waters.
The naval dispute comes as Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi is in Washington this week to meet with U.S. officials.