China on Wednesday urged the Philippines not to further damage bilateral relations, and expressed the country's willingness to jointly explore gas resources in waters off the coast of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a routine press briefing when asked about whether China believes that the Huangyan Island incident will escalate.
Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying stated China's stance and requirements in the representations made to the Philippine side on Monday, said Hong.
We have noted that the Philippine side has repeatedly made strongly-worded remarks about the incident on Huangyan Island, which have provoked public feelings and severely undermined the atmosphere of bilateral relations, he said.
The Philippines also instigated the Philippine public and Philippine people living overseas to stage demonstrations against China, which have aroused strong responses and concern among Chinese living overseas, said Hong.
"We hope the Philippines will not further damage bilateral relations, " said the spokesman.
There is no change in China's position on resolving the current tensions through diplomatic efforts, he said, urging the Philippines to seriously respond to China's concerns and return to the right track.
According to media reports, a Philippine firm is discussing a possible partnership with China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) on gas exploration at the Liyue Tan, also known as the Reed Bank, of the Nansha archipelago in the South China Sea.
In response to the reports, Hong said China supports communication and cooperation between firms of the two countries. However, he stressed that the Liyue Tan is a part of China's Nansha Islands.
"If the Philippine side unilaterally conducts gas exploration in the sea area neighboring the Liyue Tan, it will definitely harm China's rights and interests," he said, adding that China firmly opposes such action.
Hong said China is ready to discuss jointly developing gas resources with the Philippines, but it is vital for the Philippines to show its sincerity