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Palace: China a friend of Philippines despite sea row

President Benigno Aquino III and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing. Malacañang Photo Bureau file

MANILA, Philippines - Despite growing tensions in disputed territories, Malacañang said Monday the Philippines maintains a "positive" relationship with China.

In a press briefing, Presidential Edwin Lacierda said the two countries share a multi-layered and a long history of relations which include people-to-people, trade and cultural ties.

"We have no conflict with the Chinese people. Our differences are with the approach of the leadership in dealing with the South China Sea," Lacierda said.

"But on the whole, with respect to the Chinese people, we continue to establish good relations with them," he added.

Lacierda said the Philippines looks forward to a better relationship with China.

He said the ties of the two nations should not be limited to the territorial dispute.

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"If you're going to limit yourself only to the South China Sea, certainly it will color your perspective," Lacierda said.

"We have established good relations with China and we are friends," he continued.

The Philippines has filed an arbitration case before an international tribunal seeking to clarify China's excessive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The country has opposed the reclamation activities of China in contested islets and reefs, saying these violate international law.

During his state visit to Japan last week, Aquino again compared China's actions in the disputed waters to Nazi Germany's imperialism before World War II.

The Chinese government criticized Aquino for his latest remarks, but the Philippine leader said he did not intend to offend the Chinese people.

In Malacañang, Lacierda said Aquino did not compare Nazi Germany to "China as a whole."

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