Beijing appears to be responding to media reports in recent days that the US is stepping up operations in the South China Sea, according to the Pentagon.

US media outlets reported a statement from the US Defense Department describing “increasingly aggressive” maneuvers conducted by a China ship, which engaged in a literal game of chicken with a US warship on Sunday.

“A [People’s Republic of China] Luyang destroyer approached USS Decatur in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea,” Captain Charles Brown, a spokesman for US Pacific Fleet, said of the incident, CNN reported.

The destroyer “conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for the Decatur to depart the area,” Brown said, adding that the ship approached within 45 meters of the front of the US ship.

The US ship maneuvered to prevent a collision, according to Brown.

But he said: “Our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

The Chinese response to the drama came shortly after.

“The US has been repeatedly sending warships to the islands and the adjacent waters in the South China Sea, which has seriously threatened China’s sovereignty and safety,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Tuesday.

“The Chinese military will resolutely perform its defense duties and continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard our sovereignty and the regional peace and stability,” Wu said.