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China, Philippines trade barbs, line up naval ships

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BEIJING (PTI): Hostilities between China and Philippines has escalated as both sides lined up their naval ships for a second time in as many weeks, in a stand-off over a disputed island in the South China Sea.

China defended its action of sending its maritime vessel to the Huangyan Island, which the Philippines calls Scarborough Shoal as Manila too reportedly lined up two of its naval ships.

Philippines' allegation that a Chinese ship "bullied its vessels was sheer subjective assumption", Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Liu Weimin said.

"According to the information from relevant authorities, China's Yuzheng 310 went on patrol in waters off the coast of Huangyan Island in the early morning of April 28 in accordance with the law," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Liu as saying.

"The Philippine side's allegation about the Chinese fishery patrol ship 'bullying' Philippine vessels is sheer subjective assumption," he said.

He was responding to the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs allegation that the Chinese ship approached several Philippine vessels and generated a two-metre wave to bully them.

"The Huangyan Island is an inherent part of China's territory and we hope that the Philippine side will stop creating incidents that make things even more complicated," Liu said.

The navies of the two countries were locked in a stand-off in the area for the past several weeks.

Philippines has already approached the International Court of Justice in Hague over the dispute.

China has rejected the move saying that it is against any international arbitration.

Earlier in the day, Philippines President Benigno Aquino dismissed as rhetoric the recent warnings by Chinese officials of decisive action against the Philippines to reinforce Beijing's claim over the island.

"We don't think that at this stage they (China) will engage in any military activities," Aquino told reporters.

"And we... have been geared towards de-escalating the situation."

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