Manila :  A Philippine diplomat warned that any Chinese move to turn a disputed shoal, where the US Navy recently spotted a suspected Chinese survey ship, into an island will escalate the disputes in the South China Sea and asked Washington to convince Beijing not to take that “very provocative” step, reports AP.

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. told a news conference in Manila that a senior US Navy official reported spotting a suspected Chinese survey ship in the Scarborough Shoal a few weeks ago and expressed concern about its presence in the disputed offshore area. The Philippine military checked but found nothing, possibly because the Chinese ship later left the shoal, he said. China has said it has completed construction work to turn seven reefs into islands in the disputed Spratlys archipelago in the South China Sea, raising alarm in the region and sparking calls by Asian and Western governments for China to stop taking provocative actions that can lead to confrontations.

Beijing says it owns the Spratlys, which it calls the Nansha Islands, and has a right to undertake construction there.

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