The Philippines has accused China of being "dictatorial" over plans to keep ships stationed in the disputed Scarborough Shoal area of the South China Sea.
By David Eimer,
"They say that these ships will remain there permanently. The longer the ships stay, the more impossible the situation becomes," said Albert del Rosario, the foreign minister, in an interview with the South China Morning Post.
China insists it has sovereignty over virtually all the South China Sea.
But the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all contest Beijing's claims over different parts of the territory, with many of the disputed areas believed to be rich in natural gas and oil reserves.
Manila has been the most vociferous in its complaints over China's refusal to negotiate over the contested territory either via the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or the UN.
Tensions over the South China Sea have already risen sharply in the last week, with the Philippines and Vietnam refusing to stamp new Chinese passports that show the disputed areas to be Chinese territory.
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Mr Del Rosario's comments come as the secretary-general of ASEAN expressed his alarm Friday over a new Chinese law that gives its police the power to seize control of all ships that "illegally" enter what it considers to be its territory.
Set to take effect from January 1st, the law will allow the authorities in China's southernmost province of Hainan Island to board and search any ships they consider to be unlawfully in Chinese territory.
"It's a very serious turn of events," Surin Pitsuwan told Reuters. "It certainly has increased a level of concern and a level of great anxiety amongst all parties.
On Friday, Philippines President Benigno Aquino said that Manila would lodge a formal diplomatic protest over the new Chinese law, on the basis that it contravenes the UN's Convention on the Law of the Sea.


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