22 September, 2016
(Philippine Government via AP).
The Chinese ships were at Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島), a small fishing ground within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone that China took control of in 2012.
Abe's remarks are in tandem with "a deep concern" about China's attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas that was expressed during the Japan-ASEAN summit meeting.
In a summit meeting between China and ASEAN countries that was held ahead of the EAS meeting, it was confirmed that a framework for agreeing on a code of conduct in the South China Sea would be reached by the middle of next year.
US officials, however, said there were other critical elements in the ASEAN statement that China failed to block, and which they said amounted to a strong diplomatic rebuke of Beijing.
"The landmark arbitration ruling in July, which is binding, helped to clarify maritime rights in the region", Obama told Southeast Asian leaders at a summit in Laos.
Vientiane, Sep 8 The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China issued a statement here on Wednesday, calling for full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
China claims much of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Obama brought that up again.
Mr Turnbull, in discussions he said would be diplomatic but frank, concurred: "What we seek is that the rulings of worldwide tribunals, including this one, are respected". The ASEAN statement and the draft East Asia Summit statement made no mention of the tribunal.
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"We remain seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some leaders on the land reclamations", read a joint closing statement at the summit.
He said this goes against the trend of solving disputes through dialogue and consultations.
Tensions have escalated sharply in recent years as China has built islands on reefs and islets in the Spratlys archipelago - another strategically important location - that are capable of supporting military operations. They are known as the Senkakus in Japan and as the Diaoyus in China.
The leaders also adopted guidelines for a China and Asean hotline for use during maritime emergencies.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes each year.
Competing territorial claims in the South China Sea have always been a source of tension in the region, with China, historically, using deadly force twice to seize control of islands from Vietnam. In addition to Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have contesting claims on these waters. On Wednesday, the Philippines' defense ministry presented images that showed Chinese coast guard ships vessels nearby disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
The Philippines is concerned that China may plan to turn the shoal into another man-made island.
However, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the discussion on the conflict at the event was "untimely and inappropriate". "We should be on high alert on why those people keep hyping issue and spreading rumours about it", she said.
"I recognize this raises tensions", Obama was quoted as saying.