MANILA, Philippines - China on Wednesday claimed that the Philippines sparked the Scarborough Shoal standoff by violating a supposed agreement between the two countries.
This prompted the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to send a note verbale to Chinese Ambassador Ma keqing, saying there is no such agreement.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed that the tension began when Philippine vessels harassed Chinese fishing boats in the disputed area -- a claim that Manila denies.
"China has exercised and maintained the territorial sovereignty over the Huangyan Island for a long time. In contrast, the Philippine side sent vessels to the Huangyan Island and forcibly boarded and checked Chinese fishing boats, triggering off the tense situation," said Liu Weimin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.
China also accused the philippines of violating an agreement, which is the supposed reason it beefed up its presence at Scarborough Shoal.
The DFA however asked, what agreement?
"There is no agreement in the first place. It's unfortunate the Chinese response was based on the inaccurate appreciation of the facts," said DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez.
The DFA and China's vice foreign minister are optimistic the standoff will be resolved peacefully.
"China does not want to see more tension on that area. We have all along been committed to dialogue and diplomacy as a way to settle that issue," said Chinese vice foreign minister Cui Tiankai.
The Philippines will raise the Scarborough Shoal issue with the United States in a "2+2" meeting in Washington at the end of the month -- a move, China is unhappy with.
"It's not only the United States, we're bringing it up to the international tribunal for a peaceful resolution on the conflict in the Scarborough Shoal and that's what we are looking at," said Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
China, however, does not want other countries to get involved, saying it will only complicate the issue. - report from Gretchen Malalad, ABS-CBN News; ANC