• Reuters

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China accused the Philippines of spreading misinformation and “creating the illusion of the victim” in their dispute over the South China Sea on Monday after Manila aired a three-part documentary defending its position.

The first part of the documentary series titled “Karapatan sa Dagat,” or “maritime rights,” was released as the Philippines observed its Independence Day on June 12.

“The Philippines is attempting to mislead and deceive, gain sympathy by cheating and create the illusion of the ‘victim,’ ” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on its website. She accused the Philippines of aiming to incite people in the two countries.

Tit-for-tat rhetorical exchanges between Manila and Beijing over the South China Sea dispute have escalated in recent months.

Last week, a Defense Ministry spokesman accused the Philippines of trying to draw other countries into the dispute to stir up regional tensions after Japan joined a military drill with the Philippines.

The Philippines said the documentary was intended to inform its people and rally public support behind government policies and actions.

Hua’s statement added: “China and the Philippines are long-term friends and good neighbors and have shown that they have been able to fully and properly handle the South China Sea issue through friendly consultations.”

China has become increasingly assertive in the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, building artificial islands in areas over which the Philippines and other countries have rival claims. The moves have sparked alarm regionally and in Washington.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday that if China changed its position on claims over the South China Sea, it would shame its ancestors, while not facing up to infringements of Chinese sovereignty there would shame its children.