The Philippines on Monday summoned China’s ambassador to lodge a diplomatic protest over the illegal entry of a Chinese navy ship in the country’s waters, the Foreign Affairs Department said.
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian received the note verbale over the late January incident involving a People’s Liberation Army-Navy electronic reconnaissance ship.
There was no immediate comment from Huang or the Chinese Embassy.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the ship entered Philippine waters without permission and failed to leave when asked by Philippine navy ship BRP Antonio Luna.
The Chinese ship claimed it was “exercising innocent passage.”
“Its movements, however, did not follow a track that can be considered as continuous and expeditious, lingering in the Sulu Sea for three days,” the department said in a statement.
The Philippines and China are embroiled in a territorial dispute due to overlapping claims in the South China Sea, where Beijing has taken over areas and built artificial islands with military-capable facilities.
Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the area, which is believed to be rich in natural resources.
In July 2016, the International Court of Arbitration ruled that China has no legal or historical basis for its expansive claims in the South China Sea in a case filed by the Philippines.
Beijing has rejected the ruling.