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China urges Philippines to halt U.S. naval patrols

Manila, Philippines (AP) China is urging Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to halt the U.N. naval operations in the South China Sea, calling the patrols an unnecessary distraction from tackling poverty and inequality.

China said Thursday that the patrols by the United States and its allies violate the “one China” policy that has governed relations with the world’s second-most populous nation since it gained independence from China in 1949.

The United States, which has been angered by the Philippines’ recent decision to grant Beijing a sweeping military lease over most of the South and East China seas, said the Philippines is doing too little to address rising inequality and poverty.

The statement from China’s foreign ministry said Duterte’s “attempt to use the security of the Philippines to gain a diplomatic advantage to resolve his own disputes is a grave mistake that risks causing unnecessary hardship.”

“The Philippine side should carefully consider the consequences of its provocative actions, and its refusal to cooperate with the United Nations and the international community in solving the serious and pressing problems of the Filipino people,” the statement said.

“In this respect, the Philippines must make concrete efforts to develop a credible and constructive relationship with the international system, and should stop using the South-East Asian region as a vehicle to advance its own agenda.”

The Philippines and the United Kingdom have been negotiating to renew a military lease in the region, which China says is the basis for the South Chinese Sea dispute.

China says it has sovereignty over the disputed waters but the Philippines and its ally Vietnam claim they are part of its territory.