China on Friday said words by the Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana were groundless conjecture and urged him to do more to contribute to mutual trust.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks at a daily press conference when responding to a question that Lorenzana said he was concerned by Chinese vessels at various locations close to the Philippines in recent months.
Lorenzana reportedly said that Chinese vessels were found in sea areas near the Benham Rise, which is declared by the United Nations as part of the Philippines' territory.
Geng said, in 2012, the UN Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS) approved the Philippines' application for a 200-sea-mile outer continental shelf limit in Benham Rise. Accordingly, the Philippines may exploit natural resources there, but the Philippines can not regard it as its territory, Geng said.
Geng noted that the rights of coastal countries over their continental shelves does not affect the navigational freedom of foreign vessels nor the right of innocent passage in territorial waters, according to international laws, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Geng said some research vessels passed through waters off the northeast of Luzon Island last year and their activities were certainly covered by the terms of "navigational freedom and innocent passage."
Geng added that the foreign affairs departments of both countries exchanged views in January, clarified the facts and made a proper settlement.
The spokesperson also rebutted Lorenzana's claim that China canceled a plan to reclaim land in Huangyan Island due to U.S. pressure.
It is totally within China's sovereign rights to do anything, or nothing, on Huangyan Island, Geng said.
He stressed that China and the Philippines have good momentum in bilateral relations and excellent cooperation.
"We hope some individuals in the Philippines will stop groundless conjecture and exaggeration, and do more to contribute to enhancing mutual trust and development of the bilateral relations," Geng said.