China nixes Japan role in Spratlys row

from a report by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2011 10:36 PM | Updated as of Sep 30 2011 06:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines - China is opposing Japan's intervention on the issue of Beijing's territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

In an interview, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Liu Jianchao said the issue should be discussed between China and other claimant countries including the Philippines.

He said a third party is not needed.

"The South China Sea issue is an issue between China and some other claimant parties. So I don't really see any necessity of a third party getting involved in this matter. We have the wisdom to settle that," he said.

During President Benigno Aquino's visit to Japan, Tokyo vowed to help the Philippine Coast Guard in patrolling the islands.

Philippine and Japanese officials said Japan is also concerned about the freedom of navigation in the area, since their vessels ply the disputed waters.

"Sumang-ayon din ang Japan sa ating adhikaing mapanatili ang kapayapaan sa usapin tungkol sa West Philippine Sea, at katuwang din natin sila sa pagsusulong ng Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," President Benigno Aquino said after arriving from his Japan state visit.

China prefers bilateral negotiations with claimant countries and has also objected to the involvement of the United States.

"I think that the most important thing and the most effective way to move about the dispute over the South China Sea is [for] the claimant parties [to] continue to have discussions, continue to have consultations on the issue of territorial dispute. No other countries can help. It must be the claimant parties," said Liu.

Despite this, the Chinese envoy remains optimistic about Philippine-China relations.

"As an English proverb goes, 'all is well with him who has a great neighborhood.' China does cherish it as a wealth to have the Philippines as one of its wonderful neighbors. By fostering friendship between our 2 countries and 2 peoples, centuries of peace and prosperity would follow," Liu said.

China and Japan are also locked in a territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyutai islands in the East China Sea. - ANC