(Reuters) — China on Friday (February 7) expressed “strong dissatisfaction” over remarks made by Philippine President Benigno Aquino that compared Beijing’s claims in the disputed South ChinaSea to demands for land made by Nazi Germany to the former Czechoslovakia. In an interview with The New York Times published on Tuesday (February 4), Aquino called for more global support for the Philippines over the territorial issue, comparing it to the failure by the West to support Czechoslovakia against Adolf Hitler’s demand in 1938. “It is unthinkable and utterly groundless to compare China-Philippine territorial disputes over theSouth China Sea to World War Two. China expresses strong dissatisfaction over comments made by the Philippine side. The Chinese government’s determination and will to safeguard territorial and sovereign rights is firm and unshakable. At the same time, we are committed to resolving the relevant issue through direct dialogue with the claimants. We demand the Philippine side correct its mistakes, meet with China half way, and maintain regional peace and stability,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news conference in Beijing. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have territorial claims across a waterway that provides 10 percent of the global fisheries catch and carries $5 trillion in ship-borne trade. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Danny Russel said on Wednesday (February 5) Washington has growing concerns that China’s maritime claims in the disputed sea are an effort to gain creeping control of oceans in the Asia-Pacific region. In congressional testimony, Russel said the United States was also concerned about the “serious downturn” in China-Japan relations over a tiny set of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Both Tokyo and Washington have said they do not recognize China’s announcement last year that it has the right to police the skies above the islands. Russel also said the United States supported Japan’s call for diplomacy and crisis management to “avoid a miscalculation or a dangerous incident.” Hong said Russel’s comments were “irresponsible” and “based on rumours”. “It is extremely irresponsible of the relevant U.S. official to make groundless accusations againstChina without checking the facts and based on rumours (started by Japanese rightists). We hope the United States does more things that are conducive to the healthy and stable development of the China-US relations,” Hong said. China reacted angrily last week to a report in a Japanese newspaper that Beijing was considering setting up a new air defence identification zone in the South China Sea, similar to the one it announced last year for the East China Sea. The United States urged China not to set up such a zone, although China’s Foreign Ministryimplied it had no need to do so because it did not see a military threat from Southeast Asia.