China accuses Philippines of setting off tensions

China said it would "unswervingly" defend its sovereignty over the disputed region.

Beijing: A day after India voiced concern on the Sino-Philippine standoff in the South China Sea, China on Friday said it would "unswervingly" defend its sovereignty over the disputed region and warned Philippines against taking any action that will escalate the situation.

"The current situation is completely caused by Philippines warships harassing Chinese fishermen," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing here.

He made the remarks in response to questions on the standoff as well as concerns expressed by India over the increasing tensions over the issue.
"We assert that Huangyan Island (called by Philippines as Panatag Shoal) is inherent territory of China," Hong said.

To a specific question on concerns expressed by India over escalating tensions, he said "we have always been stressing the Huangyan island is China`s inherent territory."

"China is resolutely safeguarding its sovereignty and this resolve is unswerving. The current situation is unilaterally caused by Philippine warships harassing unnamed Chinese fishing boats and fishermen. The Philippines should be held responsible for the situation," Hong said.

"We have always been stressing that the Chinese side remains committed to solving current situation through diplomatic consultations. The key is that the Philippine side should show sincerity and meet the Chinese side half way and seriously respond to China`s concerns and not take actions that complicate the situation," he said.

Asked about the protests held before the Chinese embassy in Manila today, he claimed that the "Philippine side encouraged Filipino people to hold anti-China protests."

"It is their own actions that complicate and magnify the situation. China pays great attention to the safety of Chinese nationals in the Philippines. We have demanded Philippine government to take effective measures to earnestly protect the safety of Chinese nationals and institutions in the Philippines," he said.

"We once again ask the Philippines side to take practical measures to respect territorial sovereignty of China and not to take action that will escalate the situation," he said.


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