China lawfully intercepted Philippine vessels attempting to send construction material to an illegally "grounded" military vessel in Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea, the China Coast Guard said in a statement on Sunday.
The action was taken in accordance with the law, the statement added.
Two Philippine transport vessels and two Philippine Coast Guard vessels trespassed into the waters adjacent to Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea on Sunday, prompting the Chinese Coast Guard to intercept the unauthorized entry, the statement said. Disregarding repeated warnings from the Chinese authorities, the Philippine vessel Unaiza May 2 deliberately crossed the bow of Chinese Coast Guard ship 5203 at 6:14 am in an unprofessional and dangerous manner, resulting in a minor collision.
About two hours, later at 8: 13 am, the Philippine Coast Guard vessel 4409 "deliberately stirred up trouble" by reversing and colliding with a Chinese fishing vessel, which was floating in the vicinity, the statement said, adding that the fishing vessel did not have its engine on at the time of the incident.
The actions of the Philippine vessels flagrantly violated international maritime collision regulations, posing a threat to the safety of Chinese naval vessels, the China Coast Guard said, adding that it operated with professionalism, adhering to standard procedures, and was in full compliance with the law.
The responsibility for these incidents lies entirely with the Philippine side, the statement said.
The actions of the Philippine side violated China's territorial sovereignty, contravening the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the statement said.
"We urge the Philippine side to immediately cease its infringement. The China Coast Guard will continue to carry out law enforcement activities in China's jurisdictional waters in accordance with the law, firmly safeguarding national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests," it said.
Commenting on the issue, Junzhengping, a social media account operated by the PLA News Media Center, said the China Coast Guard has repeatedly made statements about the illegal intrusion of Philippine vessels into Ren'ai Reef, and has also released videos that show the Philippine vessels approaching Chinese ships in a dangerous manner, resulting in collisions.
From the videos, it is clear that the China Coast Guard vessels are much larger than the Philippine vessels, but the Chinese vessels operate in a professional and standard manner, the comment said.
The Philippines side has disregarded repeated dissuasions and warnings, and intentionally created incidents, attempting to mislead international opinion and provide "evidence" for certain forces to intervene in the South China Sea, in an attempt to "solidify" their illegal occupation of Chinese islands and reefs, the Junzhengping comment added.
Provocative actions based on external forces and temporary capabilities will only lead to failure, it said.
Since early August, the Philippines has frequently violated China's territorial sovereignty by sending official vessels and warships to trespass into waters adjacent to Chinese islands in the South China Sea, including Ren'ai Reef and Huangyan Island. The Philippines' repeated attempts to send construction material to repair and reinforce a grounded military vessel in Ren'ai Reef have been thwarted by the China Coast Guard, which took necessary measures in response.
"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, including the Ren'ai Reef," the China Coast Guard has stressed several times in its previous statements.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry also reiterated early this month that Ren'ai Reef has been China's territory since ancient times and has never been the Philippines' territory.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also urged the Philippines to take China's concerns seriously, uphold its commitments, cease provocative activities at sea, avoid risky behavior, and cease unwarranted attacks and defamation against China.
It is important for the Philippines to promptly remove the illegally grounded warship, in order to prevent the disruption of peace and stability in the South China Sea and avoid harm to the common interests of countries in the region, the spokesperson said, adding that China "will continue to take necessary measures in accordance with domestic and international law to firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights."