China to PH: Don't internationalize dispute

Posted at 04/25/2012 5:22 PM | Updated as of 04/26/2012 7:31 AM

BEIJING - China warned the Philippines on Wednesday not to "internationalize" the two countries' simmering territorial dispute in the South China Sea, as US and Philippine forces staged war games in the area.

China has been locked in a maritime dispute with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, a body of water considered a potential Asian flashpoint due to the overlapping claims of several nations.

"Internationalizing this issue will only complicate and magnify the situation," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told reporters in response to a question about the current situation in the dispute.

"We do not wish to see the Philippines get other countries involved and get them to take sides over the issue."

He spoke as US and Filipino soldiers staged an operation in which they stormed the Philippine island of Palawan in a war exercise not far from the real-life maritime standoff.

For the past two weeks, Chinese patrol vessels have prevented the Philippines from arresting alleged poachers in the disputed waters around the Scarborough Shoal.

A Philippine military official stressed the exercise was not a veiled threat against China, which has protested US moves to boost its military presence in the region.

China claims all of the South China Sea as a historic part of its territory, even waters close to the coasts of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

The Philippines has complained over the past two years that China has become increasingly aggressive in staking its claim to the waters, with tensions spiking over the Scarborough Shoal standoff.

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