MANILA (Reuters) -The Philippine foreign ministry on Thursday accused China of intruding into its waters after an incident involving the two countries’ military vessels at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea earlier this week.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Chinese military’s claim that a Philippine military ship “illegally entered” waters near the Scarborough Shoal “has no legal basis and only serves to raise tensions” in the disputed waterway.
“It is China that is intruding into Philippine waters,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Philippines and China both lay claim to the Scarborough Shoal but sovereignty has never been established and it remains effectively under Beijing’s control since it seized it from Manila in 2012.
The DFA said the shoal, which it calls “Bajo de Masinloc”, is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and the country has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over it.
“The Philippines has consistently demanded that Chinese vessels in Bajo de Masinloc leave the area immediately,” the foreign ministry said.
The shoal, located 200 km (124 miles) off the Philippines, was part of an arbitration claim filed by Manila at an international tribunal. The court ruled in 2016 that Beijing’s claim to 90% of the South China Sea had no basis under international law, but China has refused to recognise the ruling.
The Philippines presidential office said Thursday South China Sea matters will be part of the bilateral talks between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Ferdinand Marcos on Friday. Kishida is set to arrive in Manila on Friday for a two-day visit.
Ahead of the visit, the Japan defence ministry also announced the delivery of the first air surveillance radar system to the Philippine military as part of a 2020 contract between the Philippines’ defence department and Mitsubishi Electric Corp.
(Reporting by Mikhail Flores; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Miral Fahmy)