The country's pacifist constitution has long prevented governments from attaining carriers.
"We will take all necessary means to safeguard our rights and interests," said a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman.
"The one thing for certain, whether or not you can detect the impact, there's no such thing as a good oil spill."
The 360-foot-long Shang-class submarine can carry torpedoes and ship-to-ship missiles with a maximum firing range of 25 miles.
Search and rescue efforts were hampered by toxic fumes fueled by the burning cargo.
The Chinese navy closes off 15,000 square miles in the East China Sea to perform live-fire drills as the U.S.-North Korea rivalry escalates.
"To beef up military alliances targeted at a third party is not conducive to maintaining common security in the region," President Xi Jinping said in a speech
The U.S. made a rare foray into the East China Sea, drawing attention to the wide gap between American military abilities and those of China.