Philippines a 'crying baby' for opposing China island-building: Chinese media

BEIJING (AFP) - China's official news agency on Friday likened the Philippines to a "crying baby" for seeking international support against island-building in disputed waters by Beijing, denouncing its efforts as "pathetic".

The caustic commentary by the Xinhua news agency came two days after Asean foreign ministers voiced concern over Beijing's land reclamation efforts in the South China Sea.

Manila - which has challenged China's territorial claims at a UN tribunal - had urged the 10-country grouping to take a firmer stand against Beijing on the issue.

"Only one month after an arbitration farce, the Philippines is putting up another pathetic show in an attempt to lobby international sympathy and support in its territorial spat with China," Xinhua wrote.

"Manila should be fully aware that acting like a crying baby and begging for compassion from the international community would never help justify its claims in the South China Sea dispute," it said.

The dispute "should and could be properly handled only by the parties directly concerned", it added.

China says it controls almost all of the South China Sea, a claim which conflicts with those of Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam as well as non-member Taiwan.

Manila accused Beijing last year of reclamation work around isolated reefs in the Spratly islands, which could hold fortified positions or even airstrips.

Beijing has repeatedly rejected Philippine protests, saying that the projects were being conducted in Chinese sovereign territory.

On Wednesday, following a two-day ministers' meeting in Malaysia, Asean foreign ministers expressed concern at China's island-building efforts - although their statement mentioned no specific countries, saying instead that they "shared the concern raised by some foreign ministers on land reclamation in the South China Sea".

The statement came after Philippine foreign minister Albert del Rosario urged the international community to "say to China that what it is doing is wrong - that it must stop its reclamation activities at once".

But Xinhua argued that such efforts represented a "selfish, futile" attempt by Manila to "poison" China-Asean ties.

"To drive a wedge between Asean and China - its nearest neighbour and partner - at such a critical time will be extremely unwise and selfish," the news agency wrote.