"The president of the Philippines expressed concern on Tuesday about what he called the “hot to cold” messages from China in the protracted territorial disputes with his country — and others in the region — over areas of the South China Sea.
In an interview, the president, Benigno S. Aquino III, who was visiting to attend a United Nations summit meeting on climate change, made it clear that the territorial disputes had created a tense backdrop to the relationship between the Philippines and China and a geopolitical point of contention that also has entangled the United States, an ally of the Philippines.
Increasingly assertive about these claims, China has also engaged in maritime disputes with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam in different parts of the South China Sea, and with Japan over islands in the East China Sea.
The Chinese have sought one-on-one talks with the Philippines to resolve the dispute, but Mr. Aquino has rejected that approach — there are at least four countries with overlapping claims in the Spratlys alone, he said, so it makes no sense for two of the countries to negotiate with each other.
“We cannot agree to bilateral talks to solve the problem, because we think the problem is multilateral,” he said. “A multilateral problem has to be settled multilaterally.”
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