BEIJING: China on Tuesday warned the Philippines not to “misjudge” its resolve over a disputed island in the South China Sea, saying it is “fully prepared” to respond to any move by Manila to escalate the situation.
Chinese vice-foreign minister Fu Ying summoned the Charge D’affaires of the Philippine Embassy here on Monday to lodge a representation over the “current incident” at the Huangyan Island, referred to as Scarborough Shoal by Manila and asked it to remove all its naval ships from there.
This is the third time that China has summoned the Philippine diplomat in less than a month.
“It is hoped that the Philippine side will not misjudge the situation and not escalate tensions without considering the consequences,” Fu said.
Because of the continuous provocation by the Philippine side, China’s government vessels will continue to be on alert in the sea area around Huangyan Island, she said.
Fu said that China is not optimistic about the situation concerning Huangyan Island and it is fully prepared to respond to anything the Philippines does to escalate the situation, state-run news agency Xinhua quoted an official statement.
During the two previous meetings, Fu said, she asked the Philippine side to remain calm and refrain from taking actions that would escalate or complicate the situation.
“However, it is obvious that the Philippine side has not realised that it is making serious mistakes and, instead, is stepping up efforts to escalate tensions,” Fu said, as Manila and Beijing lined up their naval ships near the island in a stand off for over four weeks.
Fu said Philippines continued to send government vessels to the Island lagoon and has repeatedly made erroneous remarks which have misled the Philippine public and the international community and provoked public feelings, thus severely damaging bilateral relations.
“Therefore, it is hard for us to be optimistic about the situation,” she said.
China urges the Philippine side to withdraw its vessels in the sea area around island and to never again impede the operations of Chinese fishing vessels or Chinese government vessels performing their duties in accordance with Chinese law, Fu said.
“The Chinese side has also made all preparations to respond to any escalation of the situation by the Philippine side,” Fu said.
Fu stated that the Chinese side maintains its position of seeking diplomatic solutions to the current situation, and that China once again urges the Philippine side to seriously respond to China’s concerns and properly handle the matter.
Asserting its rights, Philippines said the uninhabited island is a part of its 322-kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone, (EEZ) and geared up to take its case to international court of justice.
In Tuesday’ s meeting, Fu stressed that the island belongs to China as it has had control over it for hundreds of years, the report said.
In order to provide a positive environment for Chinese fishermen to operate in their traditional fishing area, China’s fishery administration vessels will also provide fishing vessels with services and management in accordance with Chinese law, she said.