MANILA--Beijing is concerned about maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, Chinese ambassador to Philippines Zhao Jianhua said Wednesday.
Zhao was reacting to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement that China's activities in the sea "threaten" the Philippines' sovereignty and security.
"We are concerned more . . . It’s about the peace and stability in the South China Sea. Everybody, every country will suffer if peace and stability becomes something to the opposite, that it’s chaos or conflict. So I think it is in the common interest of all countries, including China, including the United States and ASEAN countries, that we keep the peace and stability there and we keep the freedom of navigation in the whole South China Sea open," he said in an ambush interview at Malacañang.
Zhao added that China has no plans of "attacking anybody."
"Well, we are worried about possible attacks from the other side. We don’t worry about China attacking anybody because it is not our policy," he added.
Meanwhile, Zhao said the Chinese government is also looking into reports of Chinese vessels driving Filipino fishermen away from Pag-asa Island.
"We are checking and we are in close coordination with DFA and we will be checking whether it is true or not but rest assured China is committed to peacefully settle the disputes we have and we are working very well in managing our differences," Zhao said.
The military said Tuesday it has not received reports of Filipino fishermen being prevented by Chinese vessels from fishing or landing on the sandbars around Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea.
The Armed Forces' Western Command (WesCom) received information that Filipino fishermen have been fishing in the area and taking a rest and shelter in the sandbars, according to Vice Admiral Rene Medina, newly installed WesCom commander.
Recent reports from Kalayaan Mayor Roberto del Mundo said Chinese vessels have been blocking the path of Filipino boats leading to the sandbars.