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Philippines Dismisses Claims of Chinese Transgression in S. China Sea

In Manila Thursday, Blas Ople, Philippine foreign affairs secretary, branded as "inaccurate and exaggerated" military claims of new Chinese transgression in the South China Sea territories.  

The Philippine military earlier said China violated a multilateral status quo agreement on the territories after they discovered Chinese markers in unoccupied territories in Nansha.


Ople said the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) belied its previous findings that China erected new markers.


"The DND and the AFP prepared a report on the current situation in the South China Sea and they have confirmed to me that no new structures or installations have been built in the area that belongs to the Philippines," Ople said at a press briefing.


Ople said it comes to a conclusion that reports on new Chinese transgression in Nansha have been inaccurate and greatly exaggerated.


Ople said the Philippines will adhere to the status quo agreement, which calls on claimant states to exercise self-restraint and refrain from building new structures in the region.


"The status quo is being maintained as we work towards a lasting solution to the situation. It remains intact and continues to be a viable means to maintain trust and confidence in the South China Sea," Ople said.


Last year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China signed in Cambodia a landmark agreement on avoiding conflict in the South China Sea -- The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which aims to provide guidelines for the behavior of claimants of the region.


Philippine officials said the declaration is just one of the many confidence building measures that would lead to a more binding agreement in the future.


(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2003)

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