BEIJING - China's defence ministry warned the Philippines against "provocative" actions and said China would safeguard its territorial sovereignty on Sunday, a day after an incident in disputed waters of the South China Sea.

"We warn the Philippines to stop making any remarks that may lead to the intensification of conflicts and escalation of the situation, and stop all infringing and provocative actions," the defence ministry said in a statement.

"If the Philippines repeatedly challenges China's bottom line, China will continue to take firm and decisive measures to firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests," the statement continued.

The remarks came after China's coast guard said had it taken measures against Philippine vessels in disputed waters near the Second Thomas Shoal and Spratly Islands a day before, actions that the Philippines had called "irresponsible and provocative".

The incident included the use of water cannons against a civilian boat hired to resupply troops, the Philippine task force on the South China Sea said in a statement on Saturday.