Japan,Philippines to China:Respect Law

DAVAO, Philippines (AP) -- The top diplomats from Japan and the Philippines called on China Thursday to avoid intimidating actions and follow the rule of law in disputed waters where Beijing has defied an arbitration ruling that invalidated its expansive territorial claims.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida made the call after meeting in southern Davao city, where they discussed their countries' territorial rifts with China, including Tokyo's help to provide patrol vessels to the Philippines, and enhancing strategic ties. Kishida later met President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Maritime order based on the rule of law is indispensable for regional stability and prosperity," Kishida told reporters, adding that the international community should strive to ensure that long-seething conflicts are resolved peacefully.

Yasay said that the two countries have had "the same experience in East China Sea and the South China Sea ... with respect to certain actions that use force, intimidation and provocation in order to assert one's claim over a particular territory."

"This is the not kind of action that is mandated by international law and if anyone, including China, has any particular claim that it asserts over any particular territory, it must bring this within the concept of a peaceful resolution," Yasay said.

The Philippines challenged the validity of China's claims and aggressive actions in the South China Sea after Chinese government ships took control of the disputed Scarborough Shoal following a tense standoff in 2012. In July, the Hague-based arbitration tribunal ruled heavily in the Philippines' favor, but China ignored the decision and continued to block Filipino fishermen from the shoal and develop newly-built islands.

A day before he flew to the Philippines on Wednesday, Kishida summoned China's ambassador in Tokyo to protest the increased number of Chinese vessels in waters near islands in the East China Sea that China and Japan have been contesting.

Kishida told Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua that the ships must leave the area, saying their presence has escalated tensions. He said their repeated infiltration and unilateral attempt to change the status quo were unacceptable.

Cheng said both sides need to make efforts through diplomatic dialogue to keep the situation under control and reiterated China's territorial claims to the islands.

(KA)