Philippines praised for independent foreign policy under new president
China has slammed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's act of "sowing discord" during his tour of four Asia-Pacific countries, saying it displayed "an extremely unhealthy mentality".
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks on Monday after The Philippine Star quoted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as saying he had declined an offer by Abe to provide missiles to the Philippines.
Duterte said in Davao that he told Abe the Philippines does not need missiles in its defense, and that he doesn't want a "Third World War".
Abe, who left the Philippines on Friday, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying in Manila on Thursday that "the issue of the South China Sea is linked directly to regional peace and stability, and is a concern to the entire international community".
Hua dismissed Abe's behavior as showing "ulterior motives".
"As is seen by all, the situation in the South China Sea is becoming increasingly stabilized, and has returned to the right path through negotiations under joint efforts by China and relevant ASEAN countries," Hua said.
"However, the Japanese leader is still sparing no efforts in sowing discord and playing up so-called regional tensions," she added.
Hua praised the Philippines' "independent foreign policy" since Duterte became president.
Abe's tour has also seen him visit Australia and Indonesia, and he is currently in Vietnam.
Lyu Yaodong, a researcher of Japan's foreign policy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Japan intends to play up the South China Sea issue through Abe's visit as well as the assistance it has pledged to the Philippines.
Calling Japan a "damager" of peace in the Asia Pacific region, Lyu said Japan aims to encourage the Philippines to "stir up the South China Sea issue".
Jia Duqiang, a researcher of Southeast Asian studies at the academy, said Japan wants to play up the so-called "China threat" and spur Southeast Asian countries to turn against China.
However, such efforts "will be in vain" as long as Duterte sticks to his pragmatic foreign policy of cooling down the South China Sea situation and developing closer economic and trade ties with China, Jia said.
Since Duterte－who has shown intentions of resolving maritime disputes with China－visited China in October, ties between China and the Philippines have recovered significantly from the damage brought by a South China Sea arbitration case the previous Philippine government initiated in 2013.
Hua reiterated on Monday that China will support the Philippines in its role of rotating ASEAN president this year.
Jia said that the Philippines can play an important role in enhancing China-ASEAN cooperation in areas such as pushing forward the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.