BEIJING: China on Wednesday accused the Philippines of ignoring requests for dialogue about their maritime dispute as tensions rise before an international tribunal’s ruling on the territorial row.
The Philippines has “unilaterally closed the door of settling the South China Sea issue with China through negotiation,” China’s foreign ministry said in a lengthy statement published by the official Xinhua news agency.
The statement came a day after the end of an annual meeting between the US and China in Beijing, at which the two countries failed to make progress on the issue.
China asserts ownership over nearly all of the sea despite competing claims by several of its Southeast Asian neighbors, and has rapidly built artificial islands suitable for military use.
Manila accuses China of effectively taking control of Scarborough Shoal, one of the contested areas, in 2012 and has brought a case against Beijing to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.
China has shunned the proceedings and said it will not recognize any ruling.
In the statement, the foreign ministry said Beijing and Manila, in 1995, agreed to settle disputes through talks and negotiation.
It alleged that the Philippines had ignored proposals to create a consultation mechanism on disputes at sea.
The ministry did not specify how such consultations would be different from the numerous exchanges the countries have had on the issue.
It blamed Manila for the dramatic worsening in the two countries’ relations and in the peace and stability of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
The Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Vietnam have competing claims to China, and object to Beijing’s island-building.
Washington says such construction, which includes military-capable airstrips, threatens freedom of navigation.
It has sent warships close to Chinese-claimed reefs, angering Beijing.