1. Wide of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III being interviewed by Associated Press reporters
2. Tilt down from portrait of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino to her son President Benigno Aquino III
3. Mid of reporters and cameramen
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Benigno Aquino III, Philippine President:
“The Reed Bank was never a part of any disputed territory, its not part of the Spratly group. I think our main position is, let us not make the issue that much more complicated, we know that there are areas that are under dispute and there are those that should not be in dispute.”
5. President Aquino being interviewed
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Benigno Aquino III, Philippine President:
“We’re not going to engage in an arms race with them. We are not going to escalate the tensions there but we do have to protect our rights and that has to be very very clear, we will not be pushed around because we are a tiny state compared with theirs.”
7. Cutaway of Aquino and reporters
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Benigno Aquino III, Philippine President:
“We think we have very solid grounds to say that ‘do not intrude into our territory’ and that is not a source of dispute or should not be a source of dispute.”
9. Wide of interview
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III insisted on Friday that his country won’t be bullied by China in a territorial spat over the Spratly Islands and that Beijing should stop intruding into waters claimed by Manila.
Aquino also said in an interview with The Associated Press that a government-backed mission to scout Manila-claimed waters for oil and gas had showed “very good” prospects, though he declined to elaborate.
He said the Philippines reserved the right to explore its waters despite China’s rival claims.
China, which claims the Spratlys and all other waters in the South China Sea, last week demanded that its southern neighbours halt any oil exploration there without Beijing’s permission.
The Chinese ambassador in Manila said, however, that China was open to joint exploration with other countries.
“We will not be pushed around because we are a tiny state compared with theirs,” Aquino said.
“We think we have very solid grounds to say that ‘do not intrude into our territory’ and that is not a source of dispute or should not be a source of dispute,” the president said, adding that his country is willing to hold dialogues.
The vast South China Sea and its island groups form one of Asia’s most politically sensitive regions, with China, Vietnam and the Philippines trading diplomatic barbs recently over overlapping territorial claims.
Vietnam’s navy conducted live-firing exercises on Monday after accusing Chinese boats of disrupting oil and gas exploration in its waters.
The Philippines already has protested over six or seven incidents involving alleged Chinese intrusion into waters that Manila says belongs to it because they lie within its 200-mile (320-kilometre) exclusive economic zone that is covered by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In February, Manila accused Chinese naval ships of harassing an exploration ship near Reed Bank, an area 80 miles (130 kilometres) west of the Philippine province of Palawan.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao said last week that China was exercising its sovereign rights over all of the South China Sea.
The battle for ownership of the potentially oil-rich Spratly Islands has settled into an uneasy stand-off since the last fighting, involving China and Vietnam, that killed more than 70 Vietnamese sailors in 1988.
In 2002, 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China signed a non-binding accord that calls for maintaining the status quo.
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