China sends patrol ship to protect interests in territorial waters
China rejected a request by the Philippines on Wednesday to take a maritime dispute to an international court, as Beijing sent a major ship to beef up patrols in the South China Sea.
The moves underscored Beijing's determination to protect its maritime interests in response to Manila's refusal to withdraw ships from Chinese waters, analysts said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying summoned Manila's charge d'affaires in Beijing, Alex Chua, for the second time in four days on Wednesday, to protest against Manila's claim over Huangyan Island in the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said on Wednesday.
Fu urged Manila to "fulfill its promise" of easing tension and withdraw its vessels from China's territorial waters.
Manila on Tuesday said it planned to take the dispute to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, according to a statement by Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.
The purpose is to ascertain if Manila has "sovereign rights" over the waters, he said.
Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine defense secretary, was quoted by The Philippine Star as saying that the dispute will be discussed at a meeting on April 30 in Washington between Manila's top defense and foreign affairs officials and their US counterparts.
"I'm sure this will be one of the subject matters," Gazmin said.
Fu on Wednesday urged Manila "not to take any more measures that would worsen the situation".
On April 10, 12 Chinese fishing boats were harassed by a Philippine warship near the island.
Two Chinese patrol ships arrived later that day to prevent fishermen from being detained.
The Philippine warship then left and the Chinese fishermen returned home on Friday.
But it is reported that Manila has sent patrol ships to waters near the island following the departure of the warship. A Philippine archaeological research ship was also in waters near the island and Beijing on Monday requested the ship to leave.
On Wednesday morning, China's fastest fishery administration vessel Yuzheng 310 left Guangzhou to cruise on the South China Sea.
"This is aimed to better protect Chinese fishermen's rights and marine resources," said an anonymous official from the South China Sea Fishery Bureau.
The ship's destination has not been revealed.
China recently stepped up its patrols in the South China Sea. The Yuzheng 44061, left Zhanjiang port in Guangdong province on Sunday to waters around the Nansha Islands.
Yang Baoyun, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Peking University, said that Manila is playing tricks to make the dispute an international issue.
"Manila said it wanted a peaceful resolution while it continues to keep vessels in China's territorial waters," Yang said.
Beijing's decision to send more patrol ships is a necessary and justified step to show strength, analysts said. "The move also sends the message to Manila that Beijing does not make concessions after China has shown patience and sincerity to avert the situation from deteriorating," Zhang Tuosheng, an expert on international relations at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies, said.