Beijing: China on Thursday warned the Philippines against taking any military action against its drones deployed to monitor the disputed islands in the resource-rich South China Sea.
Reacting to remarks by a spokesman of the Philippine Department of National Defence (DND) warning that Chinese drones may be shot at if they enter airspace of Huangyan island called by Manila as Scarborough Shoal, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman, Yang Yujun said "China is opposed to any military provocation in the South China Sea."
Yang defended China using drones to monitor disputed islands saying that move is "justified and legal,", state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island, the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, it said.
"Therefore, Chinese aircraft flying in the airspace in question is justified and legal," he said.
China's State Oceanic Administration said on Sunday that China will use drones to strengthen the nation's marine surveillance, and step up efforts to enhance its surveillance of the islands and islets including the Diaoyu and Huangyan.
Tension flared in April when the two countries' ships faced-off over the Scarborough Shoal islands. Both sides later agreed to withdraw their boats, thereby restoring calm.
China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to have huge reserves of oil and gas, and is home to key shipping lanes vital to global trade.
However, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the sea, some of them overlapping.
First Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012, 18:03