MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines has rejected China’s demand to pull out a grounded navy ship from a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.

China has earlier blocked Philippine supplies from reaching the rusty ship at the Second Thomas Shoal, escalating the tensions in the area. The Philippines and the U.S. have protested Beijing’s action as provocative.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez says in a statement Friday that the ship was sent to the Second Thomas Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent government outpost in response to China’s occupation in 1995 of a nearby reef that is also claimed by the Philippines.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, resource-rich waters where neighboring nations also have claims.