China's defence ministry on Thursday rejected a Philippine claim that Chinese fighter jets flew past joint patrols being conducted by the Philippines and Australia.

What the Philippines said is "groundless" and "not true", said a ministry spokesperson at a monthly press conference.

Manila said on Sunday that two Chinese fighter jets were seen "orbiting" a Philippine aircraft participating in patrols with Australia in the South China Sea but did not cause any untoward incident.

What the Philippines said is sheer "malicious" hype, the spokesperson said. (Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Kim Coghill)