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Friday, February 26, 2016, 09:55

China criticizes Philippines over Sea dispute

By Agencies

WASHINGTON - China on Thursday said the US-allied Philippines was indulging in "political provocation" in seeking international arbitration over territorial claims in the South China Sea, driving home its intention to ignore the proceedings despite pressure from Washington.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the decision by Philippine leaders to lodge a case with a tribunal in The Hague was "irresponsible to the Filipino people and the future of the Philippines."

China has refused to participate in the arbitration process, which it has denounced as illegitimate.

Wang blamed the Philippines for shutting the door to negotiations with China over their dispute and seeking arbitration without China's consent.

He said China was prepared to negotiate "tomorrow."

"We are neighbors just separated by a narrow body of water," Wang told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. "We want to contribute to the Philippines' economic development."

Wang was in Washington this week for talks with his counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry.

Wang said China has stopped reclaiming land but other countries are continuing.

Wang also said China's military facilities on islands and reefs are needed for self-defense as other nations have already militarized surrounding shores. China also intends to build civilian infrastructure like weather stations and emergency harbors for ships in danger, he said, which would benefit the international community.

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