BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday called on the Philippines to send clear and consistent messages on diplomatic solutions to the ongoing standoff between the two countries in the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a routine press briefing when asked to comment on Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario's recent remarks on bilateral ties.
Del Rosario said on Wednesday that he hoped a breakthrough will soon end the dispute so the two countries can resume normal relations, but he also urged the Philippine people to unite and defend their territories.
Hong said China has noted the remarks as well as other positive statements from the Philippine side on maintaining bilateral ties.
He called for clear and consistent diplomatic solutions from the Philippines to the current situation, which would be conducive to dialogues between the two sides.
The spokesman also reaffirmed that the Chinese government will unswervingly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and stand for diplomatic negotiations to resolve the current tensions.
Media reports said that the Philippines has imposed a two-month fishing ban around Huangyan Island in the South China Sea. Reportedly starting on Wednesday and ending on July 15, it follows the introduction of similar ban by China on Wednesday and lasting until Aug. 1.
Repeating that Huangyan Island is an inherent part of Chinese territory, Hong said China has long been implementing a summer fishing moratorium in the area.
Imposed annually since 1999, the move is aimed at protecting fishery resources in the South China Sea. Other operations will be unaffected, according to Hong.
It has also been reported that Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Wednesday named veteran banker Cesar Zalamea and Philippine-Chinese business leader Domingo Lee as "special envoys" to China.
During their six-month assignment, both were tasked with promoting friendly exchanges between the two governments, helping Philippine officials visit China, and persuading greater numbers of Chinese tourists to visit the country, according to the reports.
Hong said China has noted the great importance placed by the Philippines on the development of bilateral ties.
"We hope to see substantial measures by the Philippine side on creating the necessary atmosphere and sound environment for the maintenance of bilateral cooperation," he added.