House speaker fears China 'squeeze play'

Posted at 05/10/2012 10:34 PM | Updated as of 05/11/2012 4:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines - House Speaker Sonny Belmonte on Thursday said he hopes China won't "squeeze play" the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal.

Belmonte made the reaction amid reports that Chinese travel agencies have stopped tours to the Philippines.

"I hope they wont do that, I don't think they will do that," he said.

Belmonte hopes the Philippine government will continue its dialogue with China.

Belmonte said a Chinese official told visiting Filipino female lawmakers recently that Beijing values its relationship with the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippines remains a safe country for Chinese tourists.

The DFA said issues concerning the West Philippine Sea are not the sum total of the bilateral relations of the 2 countries.

DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines has been working on easing rules on Chinese tourists, particularly visa requirements.

Chinese travel agencies have suspended tourist packages to the Philippines and promised refunds to customers who have booked trips, Chinese state media reported Thursday, as tensions over Scarborough Shoal escalated.

The Chinese embassy in Manila also urged its citizens to avoid the streets during anti-China protests scheduled May 11. - with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News