MANILA - Malacanang lashed out at China on Thursday after Beijing's foreign ministry criticized the meeting of President Benigno Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reaffirm the ties of their nations and explore collective self-defense amid maritime disputes.
"The statement that a small country such as the Philippines can complicate matters or stir tensions while China puts another dash to its 9-dash line to practically claim the South China Sea is to put it mildly, the pot calling the kettle black," Aquino's spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, said in a statement.
"We call on China to observe in full measure the Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea and to restrain itself either from drawing new maps or disturbing the status quo in the South China Sea,” Lacierda added.
China on Wednesday accused the Philippines of creating tension in the region and urged Manila to show “sincerity”in upholding stability after President Benigno Aquino welcomed Japan's more assertive military policy.
Abe made it clear on Tuesday he wanted an early agreement with his ruling party's dovish junior partner to ease constitutional curbs that have kept Japan's military from fighting abroad since World War Two.
China's Foreign Ministry said Aquino's statement had complicated an already difficult situation.
“We think that the relevant country should earnestly show its sincerity, meet China halfway, rather than artificially creating tensions and rivalry and adding new, complicating factors to the situation in the region. We hope that the interaction between the relevant countries can truly inject positive energy into regional peace and stability, and play a positive and constructive role, rather than the reverse," the ministry's spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
Japan and the Philippines are locked in disputes with China over maritime claims in the East China Sea and West Philippine Sea.
Beijing claims about 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea. Parts of the potentially energy-rich waters are also subject to claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Tensions have risen sharply in the region in recent months, especially between China and both Vietnam and the Philippines.