Manila Accuses China of Sea Violation

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MANILA -- The Philippine military March 3 accused the Chinese navy of entering Manila's waters in the South China Sea and ordering an oil exploration vessel to leave.

A Filipino military aircraft was scrambled to the area off the Reed Bank, west of the Philippine island of Palawan to investigate the alleged incident last Wednesday, and the Chinese vessels left, Major-General Juancho Sabban said. The area in question is a disputed part of the South China Sea, where there are multiple competing claims of sovereignty.

"The Chinese patrol boats approached the explorers, who were well within our territory, and ordered them to stop and leave the area because it's supposedly Chinese territory," Sabban told reporters.

"We knew it was well within our territory, so we sent a plane there to verify these reports, but the Chinese patrol boats left, presumably after their crews saw our reaction.

"It is our territory, so they have no right to tell anybody to get out of there."

No armed confrontation took place, and the oil survey crew was unharmed, he added.