China hit back at US comments that Beijing risks building a "Great Wall of self-isolation" amid its increased assertiveness in the South China Sea and elsewhere.
China will not be dragged into "Hollywood movies scripted and directed by someone from the American armed forces," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing late Monday.
She said the comments by US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter at a US naval academy this weekend reflected "American-style hegemony."
America's purpose was simply to deploy more advanced weapons in the Asia-Pacific region, as they have "found rivals and enemies everywhere around the world," she said.
"Indeed, some people on the American side have physically entered the 21st century while mentally remaining in the Cold War era."
Beijing claims nearly all of the South China Sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in marine and mineral resources, overlapping with claims by Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
China has been reclaiming land on islands and reefs in the Sea in the past few years, and several Chinese military deployments to the region have been reported in recent months.
The United States has sent naval ships to conduct freedom of navigation operations through the Spratlys, where China has reclaimed land for island-building.
China's actions in the area "challenge fundamental principles, and we're not going to look the other way," Carter said in his speech to graduating officers at the naval academy in Maryland.
Carter on Tuesday was traveling to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual Asian security summit in Singapore, where Beijing's actions in the South China Sea are expected to dominate discussions.