China warned the Philippines Wednesday to “stop taking further provocative actions” after Manila seized a Chinese fishing boat and detained the crew on charges of catching endangered sea turtles in a disputed area of the South China Sea.
China urged the Philippines to release the 11 crewmen, whom the Philippines says were aboard a boat that had more than 350 endangered turtles, Philippine Maritime Police Chief Superintendent Noel Vargas told the Associated Press.
The incident prompted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying to demand that the Philippines release the fishing boat and “stop taking further provocative actions.”
The Half Moon Shoal in the South China Sea is disputed territory, and Vargas said the Philippines was enforcing its laws against catching endangered sea turtles when it detained the 11 crewmen of the Chinese fishing boat. He added that Philippine fishermen on another boat were also detained and were found to have 70 turtles on their ship. Those fisherman will face the same charges as the Chinese, he said.
China said the Chinese fishing boat was seized Tuesday by armed men who fired warning shots before the seizure, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The incident was preceded by a clash between Vietnamese and Chinese ships in the South China Sea over the weekend. Vietnam is trying to prevent China from operating an oil rig in disputed South China Sea waters, the AP reported.