MANILA - Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday lashed back at China after it called on the the Philippines to "immediately stop illegal provocative activities" in the West Philippine Sea.
According to Lorenzana, it is the Chinese who are doing provocation, especially since the area they are claiming is legally within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“That area is within our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone),” he said, adding the Chinese "have no right to claim they are enforcing their laws" since they are illegally occupying the country's EEZ.
Lorenzana also said China's "historical rights" over the area does not exist.
"Their so-called historical rights over an area enclosed by their 9-line doesn’t exist except in their imaginations," he said.
In a press briefing, Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Li Jian said the Chinese Coast Guard merely acted "in accordance to the law."
"China's maritime police have carried out law enforcement activities in the waters of China's Huangyan Island in accordance with the law," said Zhao.
He also accused the Philippines of damaging China's sovereignty and security by sending military aircraft into the airspace "adjacent to China's Nansha Islands and reefs."
"China urges the Philippines to immediately stop illegal provocative activities," said Zhao.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) previously said it has lodged another diplomatic protest against China over the Chinese Coast Guard's allegedly illegal confiscation of Filipino fishermen's fish aggregating devices (payaos) in Bajo de Masinloc in May.
"The Philippines also resolutely objected to China’s continuing illicit issuances of radio challenges [to] Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea," the DFA added.