Philippines hits back at Beijing over South China Sea
The Philippines on Saturday shot back at Beijing`s criticism of its activities in the South China Sea, saying they were "in no way comparable to China`s massive reclamation activities" in the waters.
Manila: The Philippines on Saturday shot back at Beijing`s criticism of its activities in the South China Sea, saying they were "in no way comparable to China`s massive reclamation activities" in the waters.
It also said accusations that Manila was being "hypocritical" would not distract people from Beijing`s own actions which were raising regional tensions.
The statement by foreign affairs department spokesman Charles Jose was the latest volley in an increasingly tense war of words over the sea, parts of which are claimed by both countries as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
"The Philippines` possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea... is in no way comparable to China`s massive reclamation activities which not only violate international law... but also unnecessarily raise tensions," the statement said.
"West Philippine Sea" is the term Manila uses for the South China Sea where Filipino troops and civilians occupy some islands.
The Philippines has recently been among the most vocal in criticising China`s development of isolated outcroppings in the waters into large facilities capable of hosting bases and even airstrips.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines would resume its own construction of facilities in the sea, prompting Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying to denounce his remarks on Friday.
"This does not only violate China`s territorial sovereignty but also reveals (the Philippines`) hypocritical nature," she said.
In response, the Philippines said: "China`s recent statement... should not distract us from the real issues in the South China Sea which are China`s illegitimate `nine-dash line` claim and China`s unilateral and aggressive behaviour in asserting that claim as exemplified by its massive and unrestrained `reclamation`."
Reacting to the controversy, Philippine President Benigno Aquino affirmed his support for del Rosario, his spokeswoman Abigail Valte said on Saturday.
She also said that any repairs of Philippine facilities would not violate a "Declaration on the Code of Conduct" sealed between China and Southeast Asian countries in 2002.
The non-binding accord is intended to avoid raising tensions in the disputed territory.
Valte also stressed that the Philippines had made its position clear in a challenge it had filed before a United Nations tribunal in March 2014 to declare what Manila said was China`s claim to 70 percent of the sea as illegal.
The Philippines has also filed numerous diplomatic protests against what it calls China efforts to assert its claims to the territory shown in a "nine-dash line" in several Chinese maps.
The UN tribunal is due to rule early next year on Manila`s challenge to Beijing`s claims.