China on Friday refuted allegations that troops in South China have been preparing for war.
“The reports alleging that the PLA Guangzhou Military Area Command and the Navy’s South China Sea Fleet have entered combat readiness are not true,” the Ministry of National Defence said in a statement issued on its website on Friday.
Meanwhile, anti-China demonstrations advocated by some Filipino activists to stage on Friday did not turn out to be as large as claimed.
Around 200 Filipino activists reportedly held an anti-China protest outside the Chinese consulate in Manila.
China accused the Philippines of escalating tensions amid the row over Huangyan Island.
“Inciting anti-China protests was a mistake by the Philippines that has escalated the current situation and made it more complicated,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing.
Reaffirming that Huangyan Island is an inherent part of Chinese territory, Hong said China is concerned about the security of its citizens in the Philippines and urged Manila to refrain from actions that will further escalate tensions.
“China has requested that the Philippines take effective measures to protect the security, lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens and agencies in the country,” he said.
About 200 protesters, well below initial estimates of 1,000 people by organisers, rallied in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila on Friday.
The demonstrators, carrying placards and banners and waving Philippine flags, protested against what they called “Chinese intrusions into Philippine territory,” according to Reuters.
The Chinese embassy in Manila on Thursday already issued a safety warning, advising Chinese nationals to avoid going out.
Philippine activities said earlier that Filipinos around the world will also organise simultaneous anti-China rallies on May 11 in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in other countries, but there have been no reports on such protests yet.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, told reporters on Friday that the Philippine government did not have any involvement in organising the protest.
Recently, a few anti-Philippine activities were also seen in China, such as burning the flag. But the general reaction was relatively calm.
“The economy in the Philippines is getting tough while the gap between rich and poor is widening. In addition to political chaos and social disorder, the government has aroused mounting complaints and outcries from its people,” Su Hao, professor on Asia-Pacific issues at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.
He said the Philippine government’s behaviour would eventually only bring more harm to itself and its people.
The Philippines’ exports to China have largely contributed to its trade balance. Besides, China has made many investments there and aided in many infrastructure projects, according to Su.
China is the third largest trade partner of the Philippines. Their bilateral trade volume exceeded $30 billion last year.
Chinese and Philippine law enforcement vessels have been locked in a stand-off in waters at Huangyan Island since April 11 and Beijing has repeatedly called on Manila to sit down for talks over the issue.
Beijing and Manila on Thursday confirmed that they had resumed diplomatic contact over the island row after the Philippines suspended it last month.
Tong Xiaoling, Chinese ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said the result is attributed to China’s efforts for peace and negotiations.
- Chinese Defence Ministry denies Readiness Status Two (chinadailymail.com)
- Marine forces of China, Thailand to hold joint training exercise (chinadailymail.com)
- Philippines on alert over anti-China protest, Beijing frets (chinadailymail.com)
- China criticises Philippines on South China Sea protest (chinadailymail.com)
- China’s standoff with the Philippines heats up with travel warnings, oil drilling (csmonitor.com)
- Philippines protest on South China Sea dispute irks China (thehimalayantimes.com)