China's foreign ministry said on Friday that it has maintained communication with relevant parties and will protect its lawful rights and interests, after Vietnam accused a Chinese survey vessel and its escorts of violating its sovereignty.

Vietnam demanded that Beijing remove the ships from its waters.

"Relevant ships of China are carrying out normal activities under jurisdiction," said Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular press briefing when responding to a query on Vietnam asking Chinese vessels to leave its waters. (Reporting by Andrew Hayley; Writing by Bernard Orr; Editing by)