The Philippine navy recently found a large steel marker bearing Chinese inscriptions and hundreds of yellow buoys in disputed waters, Reuters reported, citing Philippine naval sources.
The objects were seen near the Reed Bank, an area of the South China Sea where Manila has long explored for oil and gas.
One source, a sailor, said he was on a fishing boat being used by the navy that discovered the rubber buoys and the floating steel marker at the end of May.
The buoys stretched “as far as the eye could see”, the sailor said.
He said there was no evidence Chinese ships had placed them near the Reed Bank, which is also claimed by Beijing.
“Our boys tried to cut and remove the buoys, but a large Chinese patrol ship emerged on the horizon, and they hurriedly left,” the sailor said.
The Reed Bank lies 80-90 nautical miles (148-167 kilometers) west of the Philippines in what Manila regards as its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
He said it was unclear what the Chinese inscriptions on the steel marker said.
The discovery was confirmed by two senior Philippine naval officials, the report said.
One said the buoys were still there when the navy checked in the middle of June, although the steel marker was gone.
Asked to comment on the buoys, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said “we do not understand what you are talking about”.
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