BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday accused the United States of making misleading comments on a disputed South China Sea reef.
Chinese coast guard vessels on Sunday drove away two Philippine ships from the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Wednesday that China's move was "provocative."
"The U.S. comments ignored the facts, ran against its status as a non-claimant, and violated its commitment to not taking sides over the dispute," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a press release.
A Philippine warship grounded on the shoal's beach in 1999. China has repeatedly demanded the Philippines retrieve the ship as it has pledged. But the latter has cited technical reasons for its failure to do so.
The Philippines has continued to supply the personnel living on the outworn ship, but Sunday's vessels were allegedly carrying construction materials, including steel and cement.
"The Philippines' actual purpose is to construct buildings on the reef and to maintain its presence on a Chinese reef," Qin said. "They are not carrying supplies but steel and cement. Are they edible?"
Qin said the Philippines' move violated China's rights and interests as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
"That indeed was provocative," he said.
He said the U.S. comments are negative for preserving peace and stability in Southeast Asia, and do not conform with its own interests.