Chinese envoy slams ICC communication vs Xi

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 1) — China's Ambassador to the Philippines on Monday criticized the communication sent by former Philippine officials to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against him, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Foreign Minister.

"We think it is a kind of political action viciously targeting the Chinese leadership. So we don't think it's a proper action that is based on facts. It's a fabrication and also the misuse of the mandate of the ICC," Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua told reporters in Malacañang.

READ: Morales, Del Rosario deny politics behind ICC move vs China's Xi

Zhao said he thinks the complaint filed by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is inappropriate and would not prosper.

READ: If ICC bid fails, Del Rosario, Morales will send more communications vs China's Xi

The Chinese envoy was at the Palace to meet with Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo over the presence of Chinese fishing vessels near Pag-asa Island in the disputed Spratly islands. Pag-asa is occupied by Filipino troops and a civilian community and is located in what Manila calls the West Philippine Sea portion of the South China Sea.

The increased presence of Chinese fishing vessels around Pag-asa have raised alarm in some quarters that they will eventually block Filipinos' access to fishing grounds.

Del Rosario and Morales said China's harassment of Filipino fishermen and Beijing's destruction of the marine environment as a result dredging and artificial island building in the West Philippine Sea prompted them to ask ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to haul Xi, Zhao and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to the tribunal for alleged crimes against humanity.

The Chinese officials need to be prosecuted because they sanctioned and tolerated supposed abuses in Philippine territory when Manila was still a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, Del Rosario and Morales said.

China, which is not a party to the Rome Statute, had already said it will ignore the proceedings.

President Rodrigo Duterte's administration has made it clear to China that it did not have a hand in the communication lodged at the ICC.

"The department concerned has expressed clearly to the Chinese side the Filipino government has no role to a knee-jerk reaction by individuals," Zhao said.

Duterte has fostered warm ties with China — a departure from frosty relations between the two countries during the term of his predecessor.

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong contributed to this report.