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Philippines warned over island dispute

By Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)

08:32, May 09, 2012

Beijing warned Manila that it is "hard to be optimistic" about the impasse over Huangyan Island, and authorities say they are prepared for any escalation of the situation by Manila.

Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Fu Ying on Monday summoned Alex Chua, charge d'affaires of the Philippine embassy in Beijing. It was the third summons following previous ones on April 15 and 18.

Analysts said the Monday summon shows the strongest protest from Beijing against Manila's rival claims over China's territorial island since the island impasse started on April 10.

Despite the two summons last month, "the Philippine side has not realized that it is making serious mistakes and instead is stepping up efforts to escalate tensions", said the vice-minister.

Manila's moves are "severely damaging the atmosphere of the bilateral relations between China and the Philippines", Fu said. "Therefore it is hard for us to be optimistic about the situation."

Manila has been playing with fire and trying to push the bottom line of Beijing, and the Monday summon serves as a sturdy protest against Manila's recent provocations, said Yang Baoyun, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Peking University.

"The neighboring countries' decisions to not take sides on the issue show that the Philippine's territorial claim has received little support. Now the Philippines also finds it hard to change its stance overnight," Yang said.

Huangyan Island has been an integral part of China's territory for centuries, and Beijing expects Manila not to misjudge the situation and not to "escalate tensions without considering the consequences".

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