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Philippine foreign affairs chief in Beijing for talks

Albert del Rosario said he was likely to discuss the wrangle between the two nations over the resource-rich South China Sea, tensions over which have flared in recent weeks.

BEIJING // A territorial dispute over the South China Sea was expected to be the main focus of talks yesterday and today in Beijing between the Philippine foreign affairs secretary, Albert del Rosario, and Chinese officials.

In a statement released before his arrival yesterday, Mr del Rosario said he was likely to discuss the wrangle between the two nations over the resource-rich sea area, tensions over which have flared in recent weeks.

China claims the South China Sea as its own, but a total of six countries also make claims on part of the area.

After China was recently accused of placing its markers in parts of what Manila describes as the West Philippine Sea, Mr del Rosario said Beijing had become "more aggressive" in making claims on the area.

Anger has also flared in Vietnam in recent weeks after Chinese patrol boats allegedly severed cables belonging to a Vietnamese oil-exploration ship, sparking street protests in Hanoi as well as Ho Chi Minh City.

Among the key figures Mr del Rosario was scheduled to meet were Xi Jinping, the Chinese vice president and likely successor to Hu Jintao, and the Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi.

China's disputes this year over the South China Sea follow a ratcheting up of tensions with Japan last year over the East China Sea after a Chinese fisherman was detained when his boat collided with two Japanese coastguard vessels.

dbardsley@thenational.ae

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