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BEIJING, December 28. /TASS/. China calls on the Philippines to withdraw its armed forces from the "illegally occupied" disputed islands in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Ministry’s official spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday.
The diplomat thus commented on Saturday’s event when 50 Filipino protesters landed on the Pagasa Island in the Spratly archipelago in protest against China’s policy in the region. "We again call on the Philippines to withdraw their personnel and construction from the islands which the Filipino side illegally occupied, refrain from actions that harm regional peace and stability and do not facilitate Chinese-Filipino relations," the spokesman said.
In January 2013 the Philippines instituted arbitral proceedings against China on the territorial dispute in the region in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). On October 29 PCA announced its decision to consider the territorial dispute and take upon the lawsuit. Official Beijing does not recognize the legitimacy of this case and refuses to take part in it.
Beijing has for decades been involved in a dispute with many countries in the region over the territorial jurisdiction of a number of islands in the South China Sea, where significant reserves of hydrocarbons have been found. This refers, above all, to the Xisha archipelago (the Paracel Islands), the Nansha Islands (the Spratly Islands) and Huangyan Island. Other countries involved in the dispute are Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines. As of the end of 2013, China has been engaged in large-scale hydro-engineering and construction work on the expansion and development of the territories under its control.