"China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition, urges the U.S. side to immediately to mend the error of its ways, earnestly respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and do more to genuinely benefit stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific," he added.
A separate statement by ministry spokesman Qin Gang repeated that China had absolute sovereignty over the sea and its myriad islands and had every right to formally set up a city to administer the region, which it did last month.
"Why does the U.S. turn a blind eye to the facts that certain countries opened a number of oil and gas blocks, and issued domestic laws illegally appropriating Chinese islands and waters?" said Qin.
"Why does the U.S. avoid talking about the threats of military vessels to Chinese fishermen by certain countries and their unjustified claims of sovereignty rights over Chinese islands?" he added.
In all, six parties have rival claims to the waters, which were a central issue at an acrimonious ASEAN regional summit last month that ended with its members failing to agree on a concluding statement for the first time in 45 years.
The stakes have risen in the area as the U.S. military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a bolder stance against Beijing.
The United States has stressed it is neutral in the long-running maritime dispute, despite offering to help boost the Philippines' decrepit military forces. It says freedom of navigation is its main concern about a waterway that carries $5 trillion in trade -- half the world's shipping tonnage.
Intellpuke: You can read this Reuters article, filed from Beijing, China, in context here: worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/05/13124838-china-protests-us-state-department-remarks-on-south-china-sea?lite