Netherlands and Japan expressed concern Tuesday about any one-sided attempt to force a shift in the status quo in the East and West Philippine Sea, a hidden feedback against Beijing’s fake island development in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte “share concerns caused by any unilateral actions, including the threat or use of force and coercion, that change the status quo and raise tensions in the East and South China Sea,” the leaders said in a joint statement issued after a meeting in Tokyo.

The two leaders “stress the importance to settle disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law,” the statement said, without referring to China’s muscle-flexing in asserting territorial claims in the East and South China seas. -Kyodo, MLD