BEIJING: China has rejected the Philippines' protest against the blocking of its ships from approaching a South China Sea reef.
Chinese coast guard vessels drove away 2 Philippine ships, loaded with construction materials, from the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands.
The Philippine side protested against the incident, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.
"The Foreign Ministry has summoned the head of the Philippines embassy in China to lodge solemn representation on this event," China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a daily briefing.
He said the Philippines protest ran against the fact, exposed the country's intention to illegally occupy the reef and to spark conflict in the South China Sea.
A Philippine warship grounded on the beach of the Ren'ai Reef in 1999, claiming it had been stranded.
Since then, China has repeatedly demanded the Philippines retrieve the warship but the Philippines has cited technical reasons for its failure to do so.
China urges the Philippine side to stop provocations, honor its words, pull away its ship from the reef and to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, Qin said. (QNA)