Manila cheered by reports G7 will address S China Sea dispute

Manila cheered by reports G7 will address S China Sea dispute
Protesters carrying placards shout anti-China slogans during a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Manila.

MANILA - The Philippines Sunday welcomed reports that the G7 summit would express concern about unilateral efforts to assert sovereignty claims in the disputed South China Sea.

Regional alarm is growing at moves by China aggressively to stake its claim to most of the sea, including a large-scale island-building programme.

The United States has also urged China and other nations to halt reclamation.

Philippine presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said Manila had been seeking more global attention on the issue after President Benigno Aquino raised it on numerous overseas visits.

John Kirton, director of think-tank the G7 Research Group, has said maritime disputes between China and its neighbours would be on the agenda of the summit starting Sunday in Germany.

Japan's Yomiuri newspaper also said Saturday the summit would take up the issue.

Citing sources, the paper said a closing statement would express concern about unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

It said no country would be named.

The Group of Seven links the leaders of Germany, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Asked about the reports, Coloma said that "having talks on achieving a peaceful and orderly settlement of the issue in the... South China Sea corresponds with the position taken by our country".

He recalled that Aquino had raised his concern in a recent visit to Japan and had also brought it up at a Southeast Asian summit in April and during a tour of the European Union last year.

"The position of these many countries is that they understand the value of the freedom of aviation and the freedom of navigation and the orderly process of trade and global commerce," Coloma told reporters.

Aquino last week likened present-day China to Nazi Germany during a speech in Japan, hinting the world cannot continue to appease Beijing over its South China Sea claims.

The waters are also partially claimed by the Philippines as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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