China has issued a safety advisory to its citizens in the Philippines and suspended travel to the country a day ahead of a large planned demonstration against China over rising tensions in the South China Sea.
The Chinese embassy in Manila in a notice warned that “massive anti-China demonstrations” were scheduled to take place on Friday, advising Chinese nationals to avoid going out and to “keep a low profile”.
The warning came as vessels from both countries remained locked in a stand-off near the disputed Scarborough Shoal or Huangyan Island in the South China Sea, which both sides claim.
Chinese State-run media outlets on Thursday continued issuing stern warnings to the Philippines, not ruling out the use of force. The Foreign Ministry, however, appeared to strike a more moderate tone and suggested a way out through a diplomatic solution, saying it “approved” of recent remarks by officials in the Philippines “to resume diplomatic contact with the Chinese embassy”.
“China remains committed to solving the situation through diplomatic consultation and negotiation,” spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters on Thursday, calling on the Philippines to “come back to the right track of handling the matter”.