Beijing: China urged the United States on Tuesday to act and speak cautiously on the South China Sea, saying China has irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comments at a daily press briefing in Beijing after the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump vowed on Monday that the United States would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea.

Earlier, the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump vowed the United States would prevent China from taking over territory in international waters in the South China Sea, something Chinese state media has warned would require Washington to "wage war."

The comments at a briefing from White House spokesman Sean Spicer signaled a sharp departure from years of cautious U.S. handling of China's assertive pursuit of territorial claims in Asia, just days after Trump took office on Friday.

"The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there," Spicer said when asked if Trump agreed with comments by his secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson. On Jan. 11, Tillerson said China should not be allowed access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea. "It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country," he said.