BEIJING -- China dismissed protests by the Philippines over a Chinese coast guard ship allegedly ramming and damaging three Philippine fishing boats last week in the South China Sea.
The Philippine Foreign Ministry protested to Beijing on Wednesday after the alleged incident off the Huangyan Island, claiming it endangered the lives of the fishermen on the boats.
Huangyan Island is an inherent part of Chinese territory. China's coast guard ships are there on duty to maintain order on the waters, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing on Thursday.
"On Jan. 29, a number of Philippine fishing boats illegally stayed in shallow waters off the Huangyan Island and refused to comply with the commands of the Chinese side," Hong said.
"Chinese coast guard then sent a small boat to drive them away in accordance with law and there was minor friction with one of the three boats," he said.
He urged the Philippines to strengthen discipline and education of its fishermen to prevent similar incidents.