Malacañang on Saturday dismissed China’s claim that Japan and the Philippines ganged up on China during a regional security forum last week on disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Jr. said the Japanese and Philippine governments are strategic partners and have an agreement to uphold freedom of navigation.
He explained that President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed during the former’s state visit to Japan how to enhance ties and the importance of keeping sea lanes open.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had accused the two countries of ganging up on China and insisted that Beijing, which has been on a reclamation binge in disputed areas of the South China Sea, was not impeding the freedom of navigation in the contested waterway.
But Coloma maintained that China’s claim contradicts its actions in the WPS, adding that Beijing’s reclamation and construction activities in disputed waters raised tension in the area.
“Kaya nga ang panawagan natin sa kanila na binanggit ni [Foreign Affairs] Secretary Albert del Rosario ay itigil ‘yung tatlong bagay: una, ‘yung reklamasyon; pangalawa, ‘yung construction project; at ikatlo, ‘yung pag-escalate ng tensyon sa ating rehiyon [That is why we have asked them, through Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, that they stop their reclamation, their construction projects and all actions that escalate tensions],” he said.
Beijing claims control over nearly the entire South China Sea, a key shipping route thought to hold rich oil and gas reserves.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims on reefs and atolls in the WPS.