He "had better bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to force a big nuclear power to withdraw from its own territories", the paper, which is known for writing hawkish editorials, said. However, despite being state run, it does not necessarily reflect government policy.
In its first response to Mr Tillerson’s comments, China’s foreign ministry stressed the importance of mutual respect and cooperation with the US.
At a daily briefing spokesman Lu Kang Lu said relations between the two countries were based on “non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation."
The energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion (£4 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes every year has nonetheless been a source of tension in the region.
Despite competing claims from other countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam, China has built seven artificial islands on reefs and rocks, outfitting them with military length airstrips and anti-aircraft guns.
During his time in office, President Barack Obama's administration has conducted periodic air and naval patrols to assert the right of free navigation in the South China Sea. READ MORE