Philippines warns neighbours about China

Philippine President warned neighbours they should fear Beijing`s growing aggressiveness over South China Sea.

Manila: Philippine President Benigno Aquino warned his country`s neighbours Monday they should fear Beijing`s growing aggressiveness over its claims in the South China Sea.

Aquino stressed China`s territorial claims spanned a huge area and were getting "closer and closer" to the Philippine archipelago.

"They claim this entire body of water practically. Look at what is excluded and what they are claiming," Aquino told reporters as he pointed to a map of the area. "So how can the others not be fearful of what is transpiring?"

Aquino`s comments came shortly after his government said it would raise an increasingly tense dispute with China over the Scarborough Shoal at a high-level bilateral meeting with the US next week.

Manila and Beijing have been locked in a standoff over Scarborough, a group of islands in the South China Sea, since Chinese vessels blocked Philippine attempts to arrest eight Chinese fishing boats` crews earlier this month.

Aquino said Scarborough was within the Philippines` internationally recognised exclusive economic zone and questioned China`s historical basis for its claims.

"Its like (their claims) are getting closer and closer" to shore, he said.
The shoal is about 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the Philippines` main island of Luzon, while the nearest Chinese land mass is Hainan province 1,200 kilometres to the northwest, according to Philippine naval maps.

With China ratcheting up the pressure, Manila said earlier today the Scarborough issue would be formally raised in talks between Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario and Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and their US counterparts Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta in Washington next week.