Envoy assures PH: China not out to attack anyone in South China Sea

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President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 6) — Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua assured Filipinos China is not out to attack anybody in the South China Sea.

His statement comes after United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recently said the U.S. will defend and protect the Philippines in case any of its vessels or military aircraft are attacked in disputed territory.

Zhao said China is more worried about attacks coming from "the other side."

"We're worried about possible attacks from the other side. We don't worry about China attacking anybody because it is not our policy," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Presidential Anti-corruption Commission's first anniversary celebration in Malacañang Wednesday.

When asked who he was referring to, Zhao said, "Use your imagination."

He said the Chinese government is more concerned about maintaining freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

"Maybe that you would expect the Chinese side to be very concerned about these remarks but what we are more is about peace and stability in the South China Sea. Every country will suffer if peace and stability becomes something to the opposite, that is chaos, conflict," he said.

Zhao added they are currently verifying reports that Chinese fishing vessels are driving away Filipino fishermen in sandbars near the Pag-asa island.

"We are checking and we are in close coordination with DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and we will be checking whether it is true or not but rest assured China is committed to peacefully settle the disputes we have. We are working very well in managing very well our differences."

Zhao stressed China is currently working on the Code of Conduct for the disputed waterway to help maintain peace and stability in the area.