Beijing: Philippines summoned China's ambassador to protest the "illegal intrusion and lingering presence" of a Chinese naval vessel into the Philippines territorial waters six weeks ago, media reports reported citing the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

As per the Philippine ministry, the Dongdiao-class Chinese navy Electronic Reconnaissance Ship stayed inside its territorial waters for three days in the Sulu Sea, the International Business Times reported citing media reports.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that the Chinese vessel crossed into the Sulu Sea and cruised off the western Palawan and nearby Mindoro provinces from January 29 to February 1.

International Business Times reported that this area is separated by the island of Palawan from the South China Sea, a vast area of which Beijing claims sovereignty.

The ship was challenged by the Philippine Navy ship BRP Antonio Luna, but it maintained it was "exercising innocent passage," a claim disputed by the Philippines. The vessel stayed for four days, despite being "repeatedly directed by the BRP Antonio Luna to leave Philippine waters immediately."

According to the statement, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian was summoned by the Acting Foreign Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro over the issue.

"Acting Undersecretary Lazaro demanded that China respect Philippine territory and maritime jurisdiction, and to comply with its obligations under international law, particularly UNCLOS, and direct its vessels to desist from entering Philippine waters uninvited and without permission," the DFA said.

However, the DFA did not explain the six-week delay in responding to the intrusion. This is the latest Chinese provocation against the Philippines over the South China Sea.

Last November, three ships from the Chinese coastguard blocked and fired water cannons on two Philippines supply boats within the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the disputed waters. The relations between the two countries had worsened in early 2021 after Chinese militia vessels were spotted off a disputed reef in the South China Sea, International Business Times reported.