- Title: CHINA/ PHILIPPINES: China condemns Filpino lawmakers' trip to disputed island.
- Date: 22nd July 2011
- Summary: MANILA, PHILIPPINES (JULY 21, 2011) (REUTERS) **CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY** AKBAYAN GROUP REPRESENTATIVE, CONGRESSMAN WALDEN BELLO POINTING AT SPRATLY ISLANDS MAP IN PRESSER SPRATLY ISLANDS MAP BELLO POINTING AT SPRATLY MAP CAMERAMEN PANELLISTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) AKBAYAN GROUP REPRESENTATIVE, CONGRESSMAN WALDEN BELLO, SAYING "They should train their diplomats to be respectful of other countries, and to stop issuing bullying statements like they do. You know, I mean, their diplomatic core really needs some training in manners at this point in time. So that is my recommendation to Beijing, please train your diplomats to be more courteous and stop making ridiculous claims." CAMERAMEN FILMING MORE OF DELEGATION (SOUNDBITE) (English) AKBAYAN GROUP REPRESENTATIVE, CONGRESSMAN WALDEN BELLO, SAYING: "I think what the three of us are saying is that we really need to accelerate the civilianization of our territories in the Spratlys. Territories that we, one hundred percent are right, legally, as owners."
- Embargoed: 6th August 2011 13:00
- Location: Philippines, China
- Country: Philippines
- Topics: International Relations,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA2K5UQ1Q3RGVMS1L2GWC2S2MT0
- Story Text: China calls Philippine legislators' visit to the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea an infringement of sovereignty. A Philippine congressman says Beijing should stop making "ridiculous claims".
China on Thursday (July 21) protested over a trip by a group of Filipino lawmakers on Wednesday (July 20) to disputed territories in the South China Sea.
The Chinese government had previously voiced its disapproval of the same trip on Tuesday (July 19) when the Chinese embassy in Manila said it "sabotage(d) China-Philippines relationship".
China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan all have territorial claims in the South China Sea, with possibly rich reserves of oil and gas up for grabs.
China's claim is the largest, over most of the sea's 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square km), including the Spratlys and Paracel islands.
The dispute has lasted decades but has become more vociferous in recent weeks.
China's state television CCTV on Thursday carried a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry condemning the trip.
"Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters. The move of the Philippine side seriously infringed China's territorial sovereignty. China strongly protests against it. Ma added that it is an important consensus and also the common responsibility for the countries in the region to safeguard the stability of the South China Sea and we hope the relevant countries can abide by bilateral consensus, and respect the principles listed in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea that China has signed with all the relevant countries, avoid taking actions that could complicate the situation and make practical efforts to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea," said the CCTV anchor.
Four lawmakers, accompanied by military officers and journalists, landed on Pagasa island on Wednesday, the largest of nine territories held by the Philippines in the South China Sea.
They dubbed the visit a "peace and sovereignty" mission, to reassert the Philippines' claims on the area.
Walden Bello, a left-of-centre member of the House of Representatives, called China's statement a form of "bullying".
"They should train their diplomats to be respectful of other countries, and to stop issuing bullying statements like they do. You know, I mean, their diplomatic core really needs some training in manners at this point in time. So that is my recommendation to Beijing, please train your diplomats to be more courteous and stop making ridiculous claims," he said.
Bello also said the trip did not violate any international law and it was the job of lawmakers to monitor the lands held by the state, including the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
During the visit, the lawmakers also met with municipal leaders of the Kalayaan Island Group, the Philippines' term for the Spratlys, and promised support to improve infrastructure and spur economic activity on the island.
At present, there is no school nor medical facility on Pagasa, and transport options are limited.
The population of around 60 people includes mostly government employees, and military and police personnel.
Bello called for the civilianization - a change from military to civilian - of the island.
"I think what the three of us are saying is that we really need to accelerate the civilianization of our territories in the Spratlys. Territories that we, one hundred percent are right, legally, as owners," he said.
The visit coincided with the annual ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) meeting in Bali, which includes China and the United States, where the South China Sea dispute is in the spotlight.
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