Philippines' seizure of Ren'ai Reef 'illegal', says China

Beijing, May 30 (IANS) China Thursday termed as "illegal" the reported occupation of the Ren'ai Reef by the Philippines, Xinhua reported.

Beijing will never accept the "seizure" of the reef, an area over which China has indisputable sovereignty, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

"China's determination and will to safeguard its sovereignty is unswerving, and it will never accept the Philippines' illegal seizure of the Ren'ai Reef in any form," the spokesman said at a daily press briefing.

Hong's comments came in response to a question regarding Chinese vessels' recent activities near the Ren'ai Reef.

He said a Philippine warship "illegally" landed on the beach of the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands in 1999, claiming it was stranded.

Since then, China has made solemn representations to the Philippines dozens of times, demanding that the country tow the warship, Hong said.

The Philippines said it has not dragged away the warship because of a "lack of parts", stressing that the country does not have any intention of building any facilities on the reef and that it is not making any attempts at provocation, Hong said.

He said China urges the Philippines to earnestly honour its commitment and refrain from doing things that may complicate the situation and make efforts in safeguarding the peace and stability of the South China Sea.

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