Beijing: China on Monday asked Philippines to immediately withdraw an archaeological vessel from the waters of the South China Sea, even as a joint military exercise between the US and the Philippines began near the disputed region.
Asked about the presence of the archaeological ship in the waters near the disputed islands, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said as per relevant international conventions and Chinese laws, no organisation or individual can conduct such activities as the waters belonged to China.
"The Chinese side demand the archaeological ship to leave the islands immediately," he said.
Just two days ago, both countries had backed off from confrontation over the presence of Chinese fishermen in the waters of disputed islands in South China Sea.
The two had lined up their naval vessels last week at a lagoon near the islands but pulled the ships back after Manila first removed its biggest vessel.
About the stand off by the naval ships of both the countries, Liu said the "major cause of the island incident is that the Philippines violated Chinese sovereignty.
"With efforts of the two side the situation has been calmed down."
About the ongoing US-Philippines military exercises, he said, "Hope relevant countries do more to contribute to peace and stability. Major trend of times in the region is peace development and aspiration of people to achieve common development."
He said, "The military exercise does not represent major call of the times."
Nearly 7,000 troops from the US and the Philippines today started annual military exercises near disputed South China Sea waters.