Defence experts in China have warned the US against an arms buildup in the South China Sea, saying that the Chinese military could take "countermeasures" if the buildup poses a security risk to the country.
The warning came in response to reports in some American publications that the US was planning to deploy more weapons in the disputed waters.
The China Daily quoted an article published in the US Navy Times on 31 December, 2016, which said the US' Nimitz class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson and its escorts were poised to cruise towards the Western Pacific with a fleet of 7,500 sailors.
A bi-monthly American magazine, the National Interest, reported on 1 January that the US might be considering deploying some big weapons in the South China Sea.
"Senior army and Pentagon strategists and planners are considering ways to fire existing weapons platforms in new ways around the globe – including the possible placement of mobile artillery units in areas of the South China Sea to, if necessary, function as air-defence weapons to knock incoming rockets and cruise missiles out of the sky," the article in the US magazine said.
It added: "Regarding the South China Sea, the US has a nuanced or complicated relationship with China involving both rivalry and cooperation; the recent Chinese move to put surface-to-air missiles on claimed territory in the South China Sea has escalated tensions and led Pentagon planners to consider various options."
In response to the articles, Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said once US arms build-up in the South China Sea poses a threat to Chinese islands, facilities or personnel, "China will certainly take countermeasures".
Zhao Xiaozhuo, director at the Centre on China-US Defence Relations at the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Science, alleged that the US military appears to be searching for "new approaches to the South China Sea to contain China".
Zhao added that the US wants to deploy mobile artillery units in the South China Sea to be able to quickly mobilise its forces to intervene in case of any conflicts in the region.
"We will see how long the USS Carl Vinson will stay here. Is it just a cruise or a long stay or to hold exercises? And how far is it from the Chinese-occupied islands? We'll keep a close watch," he told China Daily.
Recently, the US had reiterated its pledge to continue freedom of navigation in the South China Sea after China returned a seized research drone, which the Pentagon said was venturing in the international waters; Beijing alleged it was a spy vessel.