Malacañang on Friday denied China’s accusation that the Philippines is trying to “rope in” other non-claimant countries in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.
“We cannot be faulted if other countries have lauded the approach that we have decided to take in resolving this dispute that we have with our neighbor,” its deputy spokesman Abigail Valte told reporters.
Valte reminded China that the territorial dispute has international implications, particularly on global trade.
“While they may say that this is a regional matter, it cannot be denied that a significant number of global trade passes through that region, and again, it cannot be denied that it has an impact on those outside the region,” she said.
Without particularly mentioning the Philippines, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman on Thursday took pot shots at Manila for “roping in countries from outside the region to get involved in the South China Sea issue.”
Yang Yujun also criticized the Philippines for “putting on a big show of force, deliberately exaggerating the tense atmosphere in the region.”
Japanese and Philippine military aircraft conducted sorties near the Recto (Reed) Bank in Palawan.
China is claiming the Recto Bank as well as other areas within the country’s exclusive economic zone based on its 9-dash line principle. Manila has contested China’s claim before the UN International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
Valte, morever, debunked the Chinese official’s claim that the Philippines is exaggerating tensions in disputed areas.
“We do not subscribe, as a matter of policy, to exaggeration. We do not base our discussions on exaggerated facts because it is not in our nation’s interest to do so,” she said.
“In fact, from the beginning of this dispute, we have advocated a rational discussion that is based on issues, as well as an objective view of facts as they happen,” Valte added.
Malacanang spokesman Edwin Lacierda said China should stop its reclamation activities in the contested areas if it really wants tensions to simmer down.
“The question is: Will China, as a responsible member of the family of nations, listen to the reasonable voice of the international community?” Lacierda added.
Malacañang asked Beijing to listen to the countries that have voiced their opposition to China’s reclamation activities.
“China has heard the concern of the international community regarding the reclamation activities. If China is concerned about the ‘tense atmosphere,’ the simple solution is to listen to the clamor of the international community, that is to stop the reclamation activities,” Lacierda said in a text message.