China on Tuesday urged the United States to stop its irresponsible remarks on the Ren'ai Reef and its encouragement of provocation by countries involved in disputes over the sovereignty of the reef.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the comments at a daily news briefing when asked to respond to U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf's remarks on Monday.
In Washington, Harf accused China of "provocative and destabilizing action," saying the the United States urged China to refrain from further provocative behavior by allowing the Philippines to maintain its presence on the Ren'ai Reef.
Hong reiterated that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters, including the Ren'ai Reef.
China will not allow the Philippines to seize the Ren'ai Reef in any form and will resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights, he said.
The Philippines grounded a warship near the Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea in 1999 and has since refused to retrieve it. In a recent statement, the Philippine side claimed that the stranded ship has served as a permanent installation. It has also repeatedly attempted to deliver construction materials and build on the reef.
Hong said that the actions of the Philippine side are leading to the escalation of tension between the two countries at present.