White House National Security Adviser John Bolton bluntly warned China this week that the U.S. military will not ignore threatening naval actions near U.S. warships in international waters.
Doubling down on the Trump administration's tough policies toward China, Bolton also renewed criticism of Beijing for meddling in U.S. elections and stealing American technology.
Commenting on the harassment of the guided missile destroyer USS Decatur by Chinese warship that nearly caused a collision in the South China Sea recently, Bolton said the threatening maneuver was unacceptable.
Navy commanders have rules of engagement that allow them to defend their ships, he said.
"The commanders have the authority we need," Bolton said in an interview with radio commentator Hugh Hewitt.
"We will not tolerate threats to American service members. We're determined to keep international sea lanes open. This is something the Chinese need to understand. Their behavior has been unnecessarily provocative for far too long."