BEIJING – China on Wednesday dismissed as “groundless” Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s warning to AFP that the Asian giant’s actions in the South China Sea should “engender fear for the rest of the world”.
Aquino made his remarks in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, saying that China’s increasing bold assertions of its territorial claims could cut access for other nations to vital international shipping lanes and rich fishing grounds in the sea.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular briefing: “The relevant accusations by the Philippines are groundless.”
China claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, using vague demarcation lines that first appeared on Chinese maps in the 1940s, locking it into territorial disputes with several of its neighbours.
Asked to assess recent Chinese government moves, Aquino said: “Does it engender fear? Yes, I think it should engender fear for the rest of the world.”
“The question of it escalating to something beyond everybody’s control should be at the top of the minds of all world leaders,” he added.
Using the Chinese name for the Spratlys, where satellite imagery shows Beijing has recently constructed artificial islands, runways and man-made harbours, Hong said: “The Philippines’ territory has never covered the Nansha islands.