MANILA, Philippines, June 25 (UPI) -- Tensions between China and the Philippines over disputed areas in the South China Sea have been rising following the sinking of a fishing vessel.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said Monday the government is still trying to determine how the boat sank, The Philippine Star reported. He said that if a Chinese ship rammed the AXL John and made no effort to rescue its crew that is a clear violation of maritime law.
The AXL John left port last Monday and was reported sunk two days later. One member of the crew has been confirmed dead, and four others were missing.
The vessel was near Panatag Shoal. The Philippines says the shoal is within its 200-mile economic exclusion zone, while China says it has historically belonged to China.
Also Monday, Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, warned the Philippines about opening a kindergarten on Zhongye Island. The island is one of the Nansha group, also known as the Spratlys, an archipelago of hundreds of islands, atolls, rocks and reefs claimed entirely or in part by China, the Philippines and several other countries