Wants dispute to be solved diplomatically
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China has accused the Philippines of escalating the month-long standoff over the Panatag (Scarborough to US and Huangnan to China) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) an anti-Chinese demonstrations were staged in Manila, the US and around the world.
But both the Philippines and China have expressed their desire to solve the dispute diplomatically. Malacanang said Friday it had no hand in the demonstrations staged by private groups against China's claim but hopes the standoff will be solved by negotiations.
In other developments:
- Chinese travel agencies cancelled all scheduled travel to Manila and Philippine banana expors have been stranded in Chinese ports allegedly because they were not fit for human consumption.
- The standoff has moved the US closer to its ally, the Philippines, according to Washington analysts. US President Barack Obama said earlier US ‘pivot’ to Asia is not meant to contain China but to ensure that “norms and rules” of the international community are respected by all countries.
- Responding to China's threat of war, the Philippine Senate called on the goverment to mobilize the mility in the event of war.
- Philippine officials said they are confident the United States will honor its commitment, reiterated durng the 2+2 summit meeting in Washington D.C. April 30, under the Mutual Defense Treaty in the event of war.
Hong Lei, spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry, said Saturday China is reiterating its commitment to solve its dispute with Manila diplomatically and said it remained in contact with Philippine officials here and in Manila.
Hong Lei, spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, made the statements in a brief interview with Asian journalists who were on a press tour of China.
Hong said China was 'committed to diplomatic resolution" of the territorial dispute despite Manila's stopping contact with the Chinese side for a period of time.
"We hope the Philippines will respond earnestly to Chinese request from taking actions that magnify or complicate the issue and go back to the diplomatic track," Hong said.
Earlier, Hong held a news conference where he reiterated China's "inherent claim" to the shoal. He also accused the Philippine side of encouraging protests at Chinese consular offices in Manila and other capitals around the globe.
Malacanang denied the charge and police even stopped demonstrators in Makati from burning the Chinese flag in front of the embssy.
Malacanang said the government had no hand in Friday's protests.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda insisted the protests were the initiatives of private groups.
The escalation intensified when Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying for the 3rd time summoned Charge D'affaires of the Philippine Embassy Alex Chua on May 8 to tell him that China is fully prepared to respond to anything the Philippines does to escalate the situation.
Madame Fu said the Philippines was escalating tensions and making it more difficult to reach a negotiated settlement to the standoff. "It is hoped that the Philippine side will not misjudge the situation, and not escalate tensions without considering consequences," Fu said.
Responding to the warning, the Philippine on May 9 issued statements saying the United States would aid Manila in the event of a Chinese attack because of the Mutual Defense Treaty.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who have just returned to Manila after meeting their counterparts in Washington April 30 said the US has repeatedly assured that it will honor its commitment to the Philippines under the MDT.