China endorses Philippine's move to resume contact

Updated: 2012-05-11 07:44

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

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Beijing has endorsed Manila's decision to resume diplomatic contact with the Chinese embassy in Manila, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

The monthlong island impasse, which began on April 10 when a Philippine warship entered China's territorial waters at Huangyan Island and harassed Chinese fishermen, has seen a series of provocations from Manila that have worsened the situation.

In late April, Manila suspended diplomatic contact with Beijing. "Beijing continued to urge the resumption of dialogue following the suspension," Tong Xiaoling, Chinese ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said on Thursday.

The ambassador also confirmed that the Philippine government has now resumed diplomatic dialogue with the Chinese embassy.

"We will closely follow the development of the situation and further moves by the Philippines," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news conference on Thursday.

China called on the Philippines to respect its sovereignty over Huangyan Island and "to not take further action that would aggravate and complicate the situation", according to Hong.

Yang Baoyun, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Peking University, told China Daily that it is improbable that the Philippines would give up its territorial claim to the island overnight.

"The credibility of Manila remains to be proved, but the resumption of diplomatic contact will help ease the island tension," said Yang.

Despite Manila's offer to prepare a new proposal for a diplomatic solution, the impending massive Philippine protests against China on Friday will cast a shadow on ties between the two countries and add to the tension, analysts said.

The Philippines recently urged its citizens at home and abroad to hold protests and demonstrations against China, and a massive protest is planned in front of the Chinese embassy's consular office on Friday.

A Philippine civic organization also announced plans to hold a series of protests on Friday in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in some major cities worldwide.

In anticipation of the protest on Friday, Beijing urged Manila on Thursday to "take substantial measures" to ensure the legal rights and interests of Chinese citizens and organizations.

"We call on the Philippines not to further harm bilateral ties," Hong, the spokesman, said.

Meanwhile, Manila continues to seek military support from the United States, claiming that Washington had pledged to protect it from attacks in the South China Sea.

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Wednesday that he had received assurances during talks in Washington last week in which the Philippines' increasingly tense disputes with China in the sea were discussed, according to Agence France-Presse.

Gazmin said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stressed they were not taking sides in the dispute, but they assured the Philippines that the United States would honor a 1951 mutual defense treaty.

Gazmin also announced arms purchases Manila is making, including fighter jets from Poland and a warship from the US.

On Thursday, China's Liberation Army Daily warned that any foreign attempt to seize Huangyan Island's sovereignty would not be accepted by the Chinese government, people or military.

China will never bully another country with its advantages, but it "will not tolerate unreasonable behavior", the paper said.