Kuala Lumpur summoned Chinese ambassador Ouyang Yujing “to convey Malaysia’s position and protest against the presence and activities of Chinese vessels, including a survey vessel, in Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry accused China of going against local and international law with the presence of its ships off the coast of Sabah and Sarawak states, on the Malaysian part of Borneo island.
Monday’s move was the second time this year Malaysia has summoned Beijing’s envoy to protest Chinese activity related to the hotly contested waters.
In June, Malaysia scrambled fighter jets to intercept 16 Chinese military aircraft that appeared off Borneo over the South China Sea, where it has overlapping territorial claims with Beijing.
Malaysia accused China of breaching its sovereignty, while Beijing said the flight was routine training.
Malaysia-China relations are usually warm but have been ruffled by recent tension-raising incidents over the sea, which is home to key shipping lanes and is believed to harbour rich oil and gas deposits.
“Malaysia’s consistent position and actions are based on international law, in defence of our sovereignty and sovereign rights in our waters,” the foreign ministry statement said Monday, adding the country had “also protested against the previous encroachments by other foreign vessels not our waters”.
China has laid claim to nearly all of the South China Sea and has built numerous military outposts on small islands and atolls, angering others with competing claims to the waters, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan.
The United States has also sent warships through the waters to assert international rights to freedom of navigation, angering China.