MANILA >> The Philippines has protested Chinese land reclamation at a disputed reef in the South China Sea, saying it violates Manila’s exclusive economic zone.
Foreign Affairs Department spokesman Charles Jose said Tuesday a diplomatic protest was handed to a Chinese Embassy representative on Feb. 4 urging Beijing to stop the land reclamation at Panganiban Reef, also called Mischief Reef.
China occupied the reef in 1995, and later expanded stilt structures into a concrete building several stories high. The Philippines protested both moves at the time.
Jose said it appears China is constructing an artificial island at the reef.
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, resource-rich waters where the Philippines and other neighboring nations also have claims.
Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines have separately protested Chinese land reclamation at a number of reefs in the Spratly Islands, fearing they could be used for air, naval or logistic bases to bolster China’s territorial claims far from its mainland.
Two other diplomatic protests made on Feb. 4 were earlier announced. They involved the alleged ramming of three Philippine fishing boats by a Chinese coast guard ship at Scarborough Shoal and the reported collection of endangered giant clams by Chinese fishermen which also destroyed coral outcrops at the shoal.