China says presence of its boats in South China Sea ‘legal’

December 4, 2023 - 5:16 PM
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Chinese militia vessels operate at Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea, December 2, 2023. (Philippine Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters)

 It is “reasonable and legal” for Chinese fishing boats to operate in the waters of the Whitsun Reef in South China Sea, China’s foreign ministry said on Monday, after the Philippines deployed vessels to monitor what it said was an “illegal” presence of the boats.

“The area has been a very important operating area and shelter for Chinese fishing boats,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular news conference.

—  Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Jamie Freed