MANILA, Philippines — The US government reiterated on Monday that it stands by the Philippines amid the latest incursion of China in the West Philippine Sea.

“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) maritime militia amassing at Whitsun Reef,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a post on Twitter.

“We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order,” he added.

The Chinese Embassy earlier denied that the more than 200 vessels spotted at Julian Felipe Reef were operated by China’s maritime militia. It said they were fishing vessels seeking shelter near the reef.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. wants an aerial view of the disputed area to see whether the Chinese vessels have already left the area.

The Chinese vessels have not left the area, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.