China blames Manila for complicating island spat

By Wang Zhaokun Source:Global Times - Agencies Published: 2012-5-8 1:05:02

China Monday accused the Philippines of complicating an island row between the two countries amid reports that Manila plans to remove Chinese landmarks on Huangyan Island.

"Huangyan Island is an inherent part of China's territory over which China holds indisputable sovereignty," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.

"We strongly urge the Philippine side to come back onto the right track toward a diplomatic solution," he said, adding that any words or behavior that could complicate the situation will not help to address the problem.

The Philippine media reported earlier that the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs had asked the country's coastguard to remove landmarks and buildings of other countries.

The reports came after Philippine President Benigno Aquino said Friday he is open to an agreement with China that would allow companies to exploit oil and gas resources while the governments separately resolve South China Sea border row.

Aquino said his administration may split the issues to "have a political discussion on one side" and "have commercial issues on another side," according to Bloomberg.

Analysts attributed the Philippine leader's comments to public angst at home for his country's role in the row.

"The statements by Aquino show that his government was already under mounting domestic pressure for the standoff with China in the South China Sea, which is likely to impact the Philippine economy further if it continues," Zhuang Guotu, director of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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