‘Let’s settle differences’

On patrol: A China Coast Guard ship monitoring maritime traffic in the disputed South China Sea. — AFP

BEIJING has urged the Philippines to face the facts, honour its word, stop infringement and provocations at once and return to the right track of properly settling maritime differences through negotiation and consultation, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

He said China has made its position clear regarding the comments of Philippine senior officials on Chinese diplomats in the Philippines last week.

The information released by the Chinese Embassy is entirely factual, Wang said, pointing that whether it’s the “gentlemen’s agreement” or the internal understandings, or the “new model” on properly managing the situation in the South China Sea, they all have clear timelines and are supported by solid evidence.

No one can deny their existence, he added.

“The Philippines’ persistent denial and breach of commitment and blaming it all on China shows exactly who is acting in bad faith, infringing the other side’s sovereignty and making provocations on Ren’ai Jiao (Second Thomas Shoal),” he said on Thursday.

Wang said that over the years, China and Asean countries, including the Philippines, have maintained close communication and cooperation, signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), committed to advancing the consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, and kept the South China Sea generally stable.

But in recent years, the Philippines has breached agreements and understandings with China, acted against the spirit of the DOC, and frequently encroached on China’s rights with provocative behaviour that creates new tension.

“The Philippines has escalated tensions in the South China Sea by involving non-regional actors in trying to create trouble.

“What the Philippines has done undermines solidarity and mutual trust among regional countries and peace and stability in the South China Sea.

“These actions bring no good but only harm to regional countries.

“If the Philippines does not change course, China will take necessary measures to firmly defend our legitimate rights and interests,” Wang said. — Xinhua

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