THE PHILIPPINES on Monday summoned China’s ambassador over its navy’s intrusion in the Sulu Sea. 

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to explain how a People’s Liberation Army Navy electronic reconnaissance ship had entered Philippine waters without permission on Jan. 29 to Feb. 1. 

The vessel had reached the Cuyo Group of Islands in Palawan province and Apo Island in Mindoro, DFA said in a statement. 

Philippine Navy vessel BRP Antonio Luna challenged the ship, which responded by saying 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,” DFA said.  

The Chinese vessel continued its activities in Philippine waters despite being repeatedly ordered to leave Philippine waters immediately, it added. 

The Philippines recognizes the right of innocent passage, but the actions of China’s navy ship did not align with this and violated the Philippine sovereignty, the agency said. 

Acting Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro said China should respect Philippine territory and maritime jurisdiction and comply with its obligations under international law. 

The Chinese Embassy told reporters in a Viber message it would issue a statement soon. 

In April, DFA summoned Mr. Huang due to the lingering presence of Chinese ships around the Whitsun Reef, locally known as Julian Felipe, and other maritime zones in the country. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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