Philippine leader likens China's rulers to Hitler: NYT

MANILA - Philippine President Benigno Aquino has compared China's efforts to claim disputed territories with those of Nazi Germany's, while urging world leaders not to make the same mistake of appeasement, according to the New York Times.

The Philippines has accused China of becoming increasingly aggressive in recent years in staking its claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, and Aquino reportedly said his nation could not stand up to its mightier neighbour alone.

"At what point do you say: 'Enough is enough'? Well, the world has to say it - remember that the Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War II," the New York Times quoted Aquino as saying in a lengthy interview in Manila on Tuesday.

Aquino was reportedly referring to the failure by Western nations to back Czechoslovakia when Adolf Hitler-led Nazi Germany occupied western parts of the European nation in 1938 ahead of World War II.

The president's spokespeople were not immediately available to comment on his interview with the New York Times.

Aquino's reported comments come less than two weeks after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe raised the temperature in a parallel territorial dispute with China by appearing to compare Sino-Japanese relations with the run-up to World War I.

Japan and China are at loggerheads over the sovereignty of disputed islands in the East China Sea, with paramilitary confrontations common as naval vessels and planes lurk in the background.

China also claims nearly all of the South China Sea, one of the world's most strategically important waterways as it is home to vital shipping lanes and believed to sit atop lucrative deposits of natural gas and oil. But the Philippines, as well as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Taiwan, also have competing claims to some of the waters.

China has been steadily increasing its military and coast guard presence in the sea in recent years to assert its claim, causing diplomatic tensions to rise and stoking concerns in the Philippines about perceived Chinese bullying.

The Philippines launched legal action with a United Nations tribunal last year in an effort to for it to rule the Chinese South China Sea claim is invalid. China has refused to participate in the UN process.

Aquino insisted that the Philippines, which has one of the weakest military forces in the region, would not concede any territory to China, but said his country needed foreign help, according to the New York Times.

"If we say yes to something we believe is wrong now, what guarantee is there that the wrong will not be further exacerbated down the line?" he said, according to the paper.

Later in the interview, he reportedly said: "You may have the might, but that does not necessarily make you right."