ANILA (AFP) - The Philippines on Monday warned a large Chinese fishing fleet in the Spratlys to stay clear of its waters amid a continuing face-off between the two countries over disputed territory.
Foreign Department spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Philippine coastguard would check on the location of the Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, to ensure they do not enter the country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
'If these (ships) are going to our EEZ, we will file a protest because this is our EEZ and it is only the Philippines (that has) the sovereign right to explore, exploit and manage the resources in that area,' he told reporters.
'We require China to respect the sovereign rights of the Philippines,' he stressed. He cited reports that the fleet of 30 fishing vessels from Hainan had arrived at a point near the Yongshu Reef in the Spratlys, parts of which are claimed by the Philippines, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.