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Philippines to raise China sea dispute with Japan
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Sept 19, 2011

Philippine President Benigno Aquino will raise his country's territorial disputes with China over the resource-rich South China Sea when he visits Japan later this month, his spokesman said Monday.

The territorial conflict and heightened tensions between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea should also concern Japan, spokesman Herminio Coloma quoted Aquino as saying.

"Just like the US, Japan is also a stakeholder in the quest for peace and stability in the (South China Sea). So this is a matter of common interest to the two countries," Coloma said in a statement to AFP.

Ahead of the visit to Japan from September 24 to 29, the president was quoted last week telling Japanese reporters their country had an interest in ensuring "unhampered trade and the freedom of navigation" through the South China Sea.

The Philippines and China, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, have conflicting claims to all or parts of the South China Sea.

Tensions spiked again this year after the Philippines and Vietnam said China had become increasingly aggressive in staking its claims to the area, which is believed to hold vast deposits of oil and gas.

The Philippines accused Chinese troops of firing warning shots against Filipino fishermen, laying buoys and markers in its territory and harassing a Philippine-sanctioned oil exploration vessel.

Aquino visited China from August 30 to September 3 to help ease the tensions but his government is also seeking more military aid and closer ties with the United States to bolster its position in the region.

Aquino left late Sunday for a five-day visit to the US focusing on anti-corruption efforts.

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