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Philippines urged to stop inflaming Huangyan tensions

(Xinhua)

08:16, May 15, 2012

BEIJING, May 14 (Xinhua) -- China on Monday again urged the Philippines to stop complicating tensions between the two countries over the sovereignty of Huangyan Island, in a dispute that has now lasted more than a month.

"The Chinese side demands the Philippine side seriously respect China's territorial sovereignty and stop all moves that will expand and complicate the situation," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a regular news briefing.

On Saturday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines would never agree to China's demand to withdraw vessels from the waters off Huangyan Island and would instead seek only a temporary agreement on the matter until a long-lasting solution can be obtained.

"[The Philippines] should work to address the situation through diplomatic consultations rather than continue stirring public opinion and delivering self-contradictory information," Hong said.

Earlier on Monday, China announced a fishing ban in northern parts of the South China Sea, including the waters around Huangyan Island, for two and a half months beginning on May 16. Some Chinese netizens have speculated that the move is designed to prepare for military actions.

However, "[The ban] is not related to the ongoing Huangyan Island incident," according to Hong, who added that the Chinese authorities have implemented the ban system for years.

In place annually since 1999, it is aimed at protecting fishery resources in the South China Sea. Since 2009, it has been imposed starting on May 16 and ending August 1.

China's determination to address the tensions over Huangyan Island via diplomatic means remains unchanged, added the spokesman.

China and the Philippines have been engaged in a dispute over Huangyun Island since early April, when the Philippines sent a warship to harass 12 Chinese fishing vessels that had sailed into the island's waters to seek shelter from inclement weather.

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