MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines has asked China to withdraw its ships from the vicinity of a Philippine-occupied island in the disputed South China Sea. The Chinese military has vowed to unswervingly safeguard Beijing’s sovereignty. The exchange of protests over Thitu island by the Asian neighbors is the latest flareup in a long simmering territorial feud. The Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said Saturday it has filed a diplomatic protest against the prolonged presence and illegal activities of Chinese vessels. The Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman says China is resolutely opposed to any Philippine development on Thitu. The escalating feud started in March after more than 200 Chinese vessels were spotted at Whitsun Reef, which is also claimed by the Philippines, and have refused to leave.
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