A Philippine Coast Guard diver cuts a rope attached to a floating barrier at Scarborough Shoal in the disputed South China Sea in this handout photo from the coast guard AFP

Beijing warned Manila on Tuesday not to "stir up trouble" after the Philippine Coast Guard said it removed a floating barrier at a disputed reef that was allegedly deployed by China to block Filipinos from the traditional fishing ground.

"China firmly upholds the sovereignty and maritime rights and interests of the Huangyan island," said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, referring to the shoal by its Chinese name.

"We advise the Philippines not to provoke or stir up trouble."

China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, while several other countries, including the Philippines, have overlapping claims to parts of it.

Philippine National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano has vowed to take "all appropriate actions" for the removal of barriers installed by the Chinese coast guard at the reef, called Scarborough Shoal by Manila, in the disputed waterway.

A 300-metre (328-yard) floating barrier was found across the entrance of the shoal last week during a routine government resupply mission to Filipino fishermen plying the waters near the Chinese-controlled reef.

It was not clear from the Philippine statement if the entire barrier had been removed.

The Philippine Coast Guard released a video showing a man wearing snorkelling gear using a knife to sever a rope attached to white buoys, while another showed an anchor being hauled from the water into a wooden outrigger boat.

The coast guard announced it had "successfully" removed the barrier "in compliance with presidential instruction".

China, which seized the disputed reef from the Philippines in 2012, deploys coast guard and other vessels to patrol the fishing ground.

The floating barrier prevented fishing boats from entering the shoal's shallow waters where fish are more abundant.

Philippine officials previously accused the Chinese coast guard of installing the barrier before a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ship arrived at the shoal last Wednesday.

The reef sits 240 kilometres (150 miles) west of the Philippines' main island of Luzon and nearly 900 kilometres from the nearest major Chinese land mass of Hainan.

Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which China helped negotiate, countries have jurisdiction over the natural resources within about 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) of their shore.

Beijing has ignored the 2016 international court ruling that its claims have no legal basis.

The Philippine foreign ministry said on Monday it would "take all appropriate measures to protect our country's sovereignty and the livelihood of our fisherfolk", without elaborating.