MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Wednesday described as “irresponsible” comments made by a Chinese newspaper on the territorial dispute among China and some of its Southeast Asian neighbors, including the Philippines, over portions of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“It sounds like a grossly irresponsible, saber-rattling statement in contrast with the Philippine position which seeks a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) rules-based solution to the West Philippine Sea issue,” Del Rosario said.
The DFA chief was commenting on an editorial published by the Chinese paper, Global Times, which accused countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines of taking advantage of China’s “mild diplomatic stance” to push their own agenda in the territorial dispute.
A report said the Global Times is published by the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, but unlike that newspaper, it is not a platform for official policy and tends to take a stridently nationalist tone.
The same editorial warned nations in loggerheads with China to “mentally prepare for the sound of cannons” and proposed military action in the territorial dispute “if necessary.”
The same report said that despite the newspaper’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the government was committed to a peaceful policy towards the sea.
China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam have conflicting claims over the Spratly Islands and other atolls in the South China Sea, an area believed to be rich in marine resources and oil deposits.
China has repeatedly rejected international arbitration to solve the territorial dispute and instead proposed joint development of resources in the area.
The Philippine government initially planned to raise the Spratlys dispute with China to the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for arbitration, but dropped the plan after President Benigno S. Aquino III went on a state visit to China last month.
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