May 21 (UPI) -- China chased out 10 vessels of foreign origin after searching more than 40 fishing boats in the South China Sea, an international body of water China has claimed as its own.
Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao reported Monday a convoy of Chinese naval ships expelled the 10 boats during a "special patrol mission" near the Paracel Islands on May 4.
China is believed to have constructed military facilities on the islands that are also claimed by Vietnam.
According to the head of the Chinese convoy that includes patrol boats, the boats that were chased out were interfering with Chinese fishing privileges.
"The foreign fishing boats were violating our countrymen's fishing rights and engaging in fishing activities. Our navy is to respond immediately in response to the law," the convoy chief's office said, adding, "We effectively defended our maritime sovereignty through the patrol activity."
The South China Sea is home to a wide array of natural resources, including oil and gas, and $3.4 trillion in trade is reportedly transported through the waters annually.
The report of Chinese expulsion of foreign boats comes at a time when Beijing is promoting its military presence on reclaimed islands.
The People's Liberation Army Air Force said Friday the nuclear-capable H-6K successfully landed on one of China's new islands in the South China Sea.
Chinese bombers including the H-6K conduct takeoff and landing training on an island reef at a southern sea area pic.twitter.com/ASY9tGhfAU- People's Daily,China (@PDChina) May 18, 2018
The bomber is an upgraded fighter jet, capable of reaching a nearly 1,900-nautical-mile radius, according to CNN.
"The H-6K is significant because it provides Beijing with longer-ranging bomber capabilities that can drop precision-guided munitions on both ground and sea targets," Rand Corp. analyst Derek Grossman told the news network.
China has also kept busy with new mine investments on its side of the disputed border with India in the Himalayas, the South China Morning Post reported Sunday.
Gold, silver and other minerals worth $60 billion have been found in the area, according to the report.