Daily Telegraph, London, on April 26, 2013, reported that China accused the Philippines of attempting to “illegally” occupy and seize territories in the South China Sea and rejected calls for international mediation. Excerpts below:
The dispute, over the Spratly islands and other interests in the South China Sea, is one of a number of increasingly acrimonious maritime struggles playing out in the region with Beijing pitted against the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
China has been at loggerheads with its Asian neighbours for decades over the South China Sea but recent years have seen tensions escalate amid fears that Beijing is seeking to asset greater control over the region.
In late January, the Philippines reportedly requested that a UN tribunal intervene in the dispute over the territories, which are located in waters that are believed to hold potentially significant oil and gas reserves as well as fishing resources.
On April 26 after it was announced that a UN tribunal would consider the Philippines’ complaint, Beijing struck back.
“The Philippine side is trying to use this to negate China’s territorial sovereignty and attach a veneer of ‘legality’ to its illegal occupation of Chinese islands and reefs,” China’s foreign ministry said.
China’s rebuttal follows claims, earlier in the year, that the Philippines had deployed a growing number of troops to the Spratly islands in order to “boost its military presence in the contested South China Sea.”
Tensions in the South China Sea were one of the key issues raised at a two-day meeting of the Association of South-East Asian Nations or ASEAN this week in Brunei.
“Everybody is interested in having a peaceful resolution and also in voicing … concern that there have been increasing disputes,” the Philippines’ president, Benigno Aquino, said on Wednesday, according to AFP.
…the Philippines’ foreign minister, Albert del Rosario, told local media that the international arbitration over disputes in the South China Sea would continue, with or without China’s blessing.