Julian Felipe Reef is part of China's Nansha Islands and the 2016 arbitral award that invalidated many of Beijing's claims over the resource-rich and strategically located South China Sea is null and void, the Chinese Mission to the European Union reiterated over the weekend.
The European Union earlier expressed concern over the tension caused by the presence of Chinese vessels in the disputed South China Sea, saying the vessels "endanger peace and stability in the region."
In response, a spokesperson of the Chinese Mission to the European Union said: "Niu’E Jiao Reef (Whitsun Reef) is part of China's Nansha Islands. The reef and its adjacent waters have always been important operating areas and shelters for Chinese fishing boats."
Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun), which is 175 nautical miles (324 kilometers) west of Bataraza, Palawan and well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, is a V-shaped reef in a shallow coral region of the resource-rich Spratly Islands.
Tension between China and the Philippines has intensified in recent months after the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported more than 240 Chinese vessels near Whitsun Reef in the disputed South China Sea.
The Philippines on Friday protested to China over its failure to withdraw what it called as "threatening" boats believed to be manned by maritime militia around the disputed Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls the Julian Felipe Reef.
In its statement, the Chinese mission reiterated that "China’s sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea are formed in the long course of history and are consistent with international law."
It claimed that the the special arbitral tribunal that ruled in favor of the Philippines "was established on the basis of illegal acts and claims of the Philippines."
"It has no legitimacy and the award it issued is null and void. China does not accept or recognize the award, and firmly rejects any claims or actions based on the award," it added.
The mission urged the EU to "stop sowing discord", saying that China maintains close communication on relevant issues with countries in the region, including the Philippines.
"The South China Sea should not become a tool for certain countries to contain and suppress China, still less a wrestling ground for major-power rivalry. China urges the EU side to respect the efforts of countries in the region in properly addressing differences and maintaining stability in the South China Sea, and stop sowing discord."
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