China: Abe's visit to Philippines has 'ulterior motives'

Kyodo News

Posted at Jan 16 2017 09:07 PM

BEIJING - China on Monday voiced displeasure over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent visit to the Philippines, claiming he had "ulterior motives" to play up tensions in the South China Sea.

"The Japanese leader is sparing no effort and seeking whatever means available in sowing discord," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a press briefing, when asked about his trip late last week to the Philippines and Australia.

Hua took issue with Abe raising the South China issue in his talks with the leaders of those two countries, describing it as "not healthy" at all.

She said the situation in the South China Sea is easing up due to efforts by China and Southeast Asian countries to put their negotiations and consultations back on the right track.

In his two days of talks with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Abe agreed with him that the role of the United States remains vital for stability in the region and territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved under the rule of law.

China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea -- parts of which are contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan -- and has rejected an international tribunal ruling in July last year that its sweeping claims have no legal basis.

During his six-day overseas trip that ended Monday, Abe also visited Indonesia and Vietnam for talks with their leaders in which regional maritime security was high on the agenda.