Don't damage relations, China tells Philippines
CHINA yesterday urged the Philippines not to further damage bilateral relations, and expressed the country's willingness to jointly explore gas resources in waters off the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a routine press briefing when asked about whether China believed that the Huangyan Island standoff would escalate.
China has urged the Philippine side to withdraw its vessels from the area around the island, and to never again impede the operations of Chinese fishing vessels or Chinese government vessels performing their duties.
"We have noted that the Philippine side has repeatedly made strongly-worded remarks about the incident on Huangyan Island, which have provoked public feelings and severely undermined the atmosphere of bilateral relations," he said.
The Philippines also instigated the Philippine public and Philippine people living overseas to stage demonstrations against China, which had aroused strong responses and concern among Chinese living overseas, said Hong.
"We hope the Philippines will not further damage bilateral relations," Hong said.
There is no change in China's position on resolving the current tensions through diplomatic efforts, he said, urging the Philippines to seriously respond to China's concerns and return to the right track.
According to media reports, a Philippine firm is discussing a possible partnership with China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) over gas exploration at the Liyue Tan, also known as the Reed Bank, of the Nansha archipelago in the South China Sea.
In response to the reports, Hong said China supports communication and cooperation between firms of the two countries.
However, he stressed that the Liyue Tan was a part of China's Nansha Islands.
"If the Philippine side unilaterally conducts gas exploration in the sea area neighboring the Liyue Tan, it will definitely harm China's rights and interests," he said, adding that China is firmly opposed to such action.
Hong said China was ready to discuss jointly developing gas resources with the Philippines, but it was vital for the Philippines to show its sincerity.
10 May 2012