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AMTI made the report after Cayetano said China stopped reclaiming land.

This amounts to an explicit recognition that the Philippines is toeing China's line as ASEAN's chair.

On Sunday, China and Asean Foreign Ministers adopted a framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, said Geng, noting that all parties affirmed the positive situation in the South China Sea and highly appreciated the early cooperation results, such as the China-Asean senior diplomats hotline.

Beijing claims most of the sea and has been turning reefs in the Spratlys and Paracel chains into islands, installing military aircraft and missile systems on them - an activity the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said was continuing.

Geng said that the will of the Chinese government to safeguard national sovereignty and maritime rights and interests is firm.

Conditions set by the United States forced the Philippines to turn to China and Russian Federation for arms supplies, the Southeast Asian nation's defense minister has said.

China today expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" with the USA over the sail-by.

China "scored a coup" during ASEAN's latest security summit when ASEAN countries issued a watered-down statement on the South China Sea disputes.

United States national security advisor Lt Gen H R McMaster had said recently that "China is not doing enough on North Korea which continues to violate global norms by conducting missile tests".

In turn, the Chinese Defense Ministry urged Washington to stop "provocations" in the South China Sea.

Opening its strategic South Sea Fleet base in the coastal city of Zhanjiang to a group of Indian journalists for the first time, People's Liberation Army Navy officials say the Indian Ocean is a "common place" for the worldwide community. Since the mid-2000s, China has ramped up efforts to consolidate its position through diplomacy and military means. China had left a gap in the retaining wall facing the remnants of the washed-out land bridge, suggesting it might not have abandoned plans to connect North and Middle Islands. "And the behaviour of the US, Japan and Australia is unlikely to change either, no matter how cordial relations between China and the other Asean members become", Zhang said.

"They happen off the coast of Canada" and "in the waters off shore of our major allies, friends, partners all around the world", she said.

The Philippines is increasingly reluctant to allow the United States to use its territory to "deter" China or to jointly exercise with it in the South China Sea.

"Freedom of navigation is guaranteed and anyone can do it so we just need to monitor", Padilla said in the same Palace press briefing.

The United States has criticized China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement.

The archipelago is claimed in its entirety by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday formal talks with Asean will begin this year if no outsiders interfere on the matter.

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