Rivals play down China's overture in South China Sea
Bandar Seri Begawan: Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario walked into a regional security forum this week to hear his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi reel off a list of complaints against Manila for stirring tensions over the South China Sea.
Del Rosario was not scheduled to speak, but after hearing Wang's speech at Sunday's closed-door meeting in the kingdom of Brunei, he raised his hand and proceeded to rebut China's allegations one by one, according to Philippine diplomats. The Singapore foreign minister called it "testy exchanges".
The departure from the usual diplomatic niceties that mark such multilateral gatherings was the latest display of animosity over competing claims in the oil-rich South China Sea, one of Asia's most dangerous military flashpoints.
Despite rare progress towards easing tensions between China and Southeast Asian nations at the Brunei meeting, a binding agreement remains a distant prospect, with Beijing seen in no rush to limit a growing naval reach that is alarming neighbours such as Vietnam and the Philippines.