China and the Philippines traded barbs Friday over an incident involving their vessels in the South China Sea, with bilateral tensions mounting since ship collisions last month near a disputed shoal.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference that his government has lodged a complaint with the Philippine Embassy in Beijing after five Philippine vessels "intruded into" waters near the Second Thomas Shoal, a part of the Spratly Islands chain, and "severely undermined China's sovereignty."

Image released by the Philippine military shows a Chinese militia vessel (L) and a Philippine Coast Guard vessel near the Second Thomas Shoal, locally called Ayungin Shoal, in the South China Sea on Oct. 22, 2023. (Armed Forces of the Philippines/AP/Kyodo)

Beijing claims the Manila-controlled shoal. Wang urged the Philippines to "immediately stop provocations on the sea" and pledged that China will continue to take necessary measures "to maintain our territorial sovereignty and maritime interests."

The Philippines, meanwhile, protested the Chinese coast guard's use of a water cannon against one of its supply boats, saying it "put the lives of our people at risk" and called into question "the sincerity of (China's) calls for peaceful dialogue."

The Philippines has continued to conduct supply missions to a military base in the shoal despite China's intensified maritime assertiveness in nearby waters.

Video: Aboard Philippine Coast Guard ship in contest South China Sea on Nov. 10, 2023

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