Philippines, China Promise Stability for South China Sea

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 10:05 am (UTC-5)
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China and the Philippines are promising not to let their dispute over the South China Sea ruin relations between the two countries.

The Chinese and Philippine foreign ministers issued a joint statement in Beijing Friday pledging to work together to ensure stability in the waters around the Spratly Islands.

Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario arrived in China Thursday for a series of high-level talks, including Friday's meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

China and Taiwan claim the entire South China Sea based largely on a centuries-old map but several countries contest those claims, including the Philippines and Vietnam. The longtime dispute has become more important because of accelerating exploration for oil and gas under the sea floor.

Recently, the Philippines has accused China of several incursions into parts of the South China Sea it claims as its own. The Philippine government has also sought assurances from Washington of protection under a longstanding mutual defense treaty and inquired about leasing ships and weapons.

The U.S. and Philippine navies are finishing 11 days of training and exercises in the Philippines off the coast of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea.

The fate of the Spratly Islands has sparked an emotional response in the Philippines, where protesters gathered Friday in front of the Chinese consulate.

The demonstrators – many Filipinos from the United States – shouted slogans and posted signs denouncing China as a bully. They demanded China stay out of what they consider to be Philippine territory.