Philippines arrest Chinese 'poachers' after reef collision
April 12, 2013 -- Updated 0458 GMT (1258 HKT)
Protesters display placards during a rally in front of the Chinese consular office in Manila on April 11.
- China has urged the Philippines to "guarantee the safety" of fishermen accused of poaching
- 12 Chinese nationals were arrested on April 8 after their ship ran aground on a reef
- The coral reef was the same marine park where a U.S. Navy minesweeper ran aground
- Tubbahata Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site with restricted access
Hong Kong (CNN) -- China has urged the Philippines to "guarantee the safety and legitimate rights" of fishermen who have been taken into custody for poaching after their vessel ran aground on the protected Tubbataha Reef -- the latest incident in often tense relations among nations in the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made his comments on Thursday, state-run Xinhua reported, a day after Philippine authorities formally charged 12 fishermen with poaching and attempting to "corrupt public officials," the Tubbataha management office said in a news release.
The 12 Chinese nationals were arrested on April 8 after their ship ran aground on the reef. The fishermen also faced administrative charges for for illegally entering Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and for damage to the reefs. Crews will be sent to remove fuel from the 500-ton vessel to attempt to float it off the seabed, according to park authorities.
The coral reef was the same that a U.S. Navy minesweeper ran aground and damaged the reef on January 17. Earlier this week, Philippine officials said they would be sending the U.S. government a $1.5 million bill for damage to the reef.
The stern of the USS Guardian, the last piece of grounded ship, is removed by a crane vessel on Saturday, March 30. The U.S. Navy minesweeper became trapped on a reef off the western Philippine island of Palawan on January 17. The Navy has pledged to clean up debris and restore the reef as much as possible.
Photos: End of the USS Guardian
READ MORE: Navy owes $1.5 million for damage to reef
Tubbahata Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to about 500 species of fish and 350 species of coral as well as whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and breeding seabirds.
Elsewhere in the region, an agreement between Japan and Taiwan on fishing rights among disputed islands in the East China Sea has angered Beijing. Lei told reporters Beijing is China is "seriously concerned" about the fishery agreement, Xinhua reported.
The islands -- known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China -- is a periodic flashpoint between Tokyo and Beijing, which have competing claims to ownership. Anti-Japanese demonstrations in China turned violent last September, with Japanese businesses and cars damaged, dragging relations between Asia's two largest economies to their lowest level since World War II.
Part of complete coverage on
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1900 GMT (0300 HKT)
Presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and royals joined tens of thousands of South Africans to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
President Obama pays tribute at the Mandela Memorial: "Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done," he said.
December 9, 2013 -- Updated 2311 GMT (0711 HKT)
Until he returned home this weekend, Merrill Newman -- an American held in North Korea -- had no idea what a story he'd become.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 0246 GMT (1046 HKT)
Transportation throughout the inhospitable Arctic region may soon be revolutionized.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1430 GMT (2230 HKT)
There were no genetic tests 400,000 years ago, so our ancient relatives didn't know as much about themselves as we know about them now.
Theme parks, sports stadiums, and city squares are among the most popular destinations that people checked into on Facebook in 2013.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
At a time when many have lost faith in the global financial system, Bitcoin is being hailed as the future of e-commerce.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1346 GMT (2146 HKT)
Actress Eleanor Parker, nominated for three Oscars and known for her "Sound of Music" role, died Monday at 91, her family said.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1249 GMT (2049 HKT)
Director and actor Charlie Chaplin made Virginia Cherrill perform one scene -- in which she says just two words in a silent film -- 342 times.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
Each volunteer at Yekokeb Berhan in Ethiopia will take in 25 disadvantaged children as her own.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
The Web is set to change our lives over the next decade. This will also question the use of personal data and balancing new powers with ethics.
December 10, 2013 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see in news reports, taken by CNN teams all around the world.
He was imprisoned for life but that did not quiet him. Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president, and an icon and inspiration.
Today's five most popular stories