The Philippines on Sunday urged China to call back more than 200 Chinese boats that have been spotted at a reef in the South China Sea. The Philippines calls it a violation of maritime rights.
“We call on the Chinese to stop incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory,” Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana said.
The vessels are fishing boats believed to be manned by Chinese military-trained personnel, according to Philippines security officials. The vessels’ presence in the area raises apprehensions about overfishing and the destruction of the marine ecosystem, as well as risks to safe navigation, a Philippine cross-government task force said.
The South China Sea is a disputed waterbody with Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Brunei claiming parts of the sea along with China. In January, the Philippines protested at a new Chinese law allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels, describing it as a threat of war.