Filipino activists hold up their placards calling for the Chinese government to back-off from a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, during a rally outside the Chinese Consular Office in Makati's financial district, south of Manila, Philippines, 16 April 2012. EFE-EPA FILE/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

China drives away Philippine navy gunboat from disputed waters

Beijing, Oct 10 (EFE).- The Chinese Coast Guard said on Tuesday that it drove away a Philippine navy gunboat from disputed waters adjacent to Huangyan island after the latter entered the area despite repeated warnings.

Chinese Coast Guard spokesperson Gan Yu said in a statement that necessary measures such as tracking and controlling the ship’s route were taken to drive away the Philippine vessel following its disregard of the warnings, calling the operation professional, standardized, and lawful.

Huangyan is the Chinese name for Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

Both China and the Philippines lay claim to the island.

The spokesperson defended China’s indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island and the surrounding waters and said that the Philippines’ actions violated China’s sovereignty, international law and basic norms of international relations.

“We urge the Philippine side to immediately stop its infringement. China Coast Guard will continue to carry out law enforcement activities to safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in China’s jurisdictional waters,” Gan added, state-run newspaper Global Times reported.

The latest incident came less than two weeks after the two countries became embroiled in a dispute over a floating barrier placed by China near the Scarborough Shoal.

China occupied the island in 2012 and blocked the entry of Philippine fishing vessels, but relaxed the ban when former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte began seeking closer ties with Beijing in 2016.

However, the new Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has strengthened defense ties with the United States and criticized Beijing’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

The Chinese government claims almost the entire South China Sea, including the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos, which overlaps with the 200-mile exclusive economic zones that other nations, such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, are entitled to under international law.

Beijing has claimed it has historical rights over the area, but in 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of Manila in its complaint against Beijing’s claims, a ruling China has refused to accept.

Tensions between China and the Philippines have increased in recent months.

Last week, the Philippine government said that it was considering filing a new complaint with the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, this time over the alleged destruction of coral reefs in disputed waters by Chinese ships. EFE