BEIJING (Reuters) – China has indisputable sovereignty over the Scarborough Reef and its adjacent waters and has always resolutely resisted violations by the Philippines, a Chinese coast guard spokesperson said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The spokesperson said four Filipino personnel entered certain areas illegally on Jan. 28 and the coast guard warned them to leave in accordance with the law. The interaction was “professional and standardized,” according to the statement.
Accusations and skirmishes have occurred frequently between the two countries over the past year over disputed territorial areas in the South China Sea.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, which has angered neighboring countries who dispute certain borders they claim cut into their exclusive economic zones.
“The Chinese coast guard will, as always, defend and enforce the law in waters under the country’s jurisdiction, the statement said, quoting the spokesperson.
China regularly conducts patrols in the South China Sea even as tensions rise between it and the Philippines, which recently staged its own joint military patrol in the region with its ally – the United States – drawing anger from the China.
The spokesperson said the Coast Guard will firmly safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.
(Reporting by Bernard Orr; editing by Tom Hogue and Lincoln Feast)