MANILA, Philippines, April 22 (UPI) -- The Philippine government says it promises to de-escalate tension with China in a dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
Philippine deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told radio station dzRB de-escalation would benefit all parties and will hopefully spur negotiation between the two countries.
The dispute began April 8 when the Philippine navy boarded and inspected eight Chinese private fishing vessels at Scarborough Shoal, a small atoll among the 750 islands that comprise the Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea, The Philippine Star reported.
China claims it owns the island, while the Philippines says the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea included the island in a 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said other nations should consider taking a stand against China's "baseless" claim in the contested areas, the Gulf News reported.
"All, not just the Philippines will be ultimately negatively affected if we do not take a stand," del Rosario added.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials said Sunday the Philippine government has aggravated tensions between the two countries, not China, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
"We did not aggravate the situation as some said," Zhang Hua, spokesman for the Chinese ambassador to the Philippines. "First, Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) is part of China's territory. Second, it is the Philippine Navy that first pointed their guns at our fishermen."
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