Philippine President Benigno Aquino compared Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea to Nazi Germany’s demands for territory in Eastern Europe, just before World War II.
Aquino is in Tokyo to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss better defence ties against China. He has used the trip to criticise Beijing's land reclamation projects in the disputed waters.
China has been building artificial islands in the potentially resource-rich South China Sea waters, where Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have rival claims.
“I’m an amateur student of history and I’m reminded of… how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers,” said Aquino, according to Agence France-Presse, alluding to Nazi Germany's territorial expansion before World War II and Western appeasement.
The Philippine leader also claimed Beijing violates an international agreement with its reclamation projects.
Aquino made similar remarks last year, and China's Foreign Ministry described the comparison "outrageous and unreasonable" once again.
"I once more seriously warn certain people in the Philippines to cast aside their illusions and repent, stop provocations and instigations, and return to the correct path of using bilateral channels to talk and resolve this dispute," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
The Philippines has been largely outspoken against China’s territorial claims in the region and has aimed to beef up security arrangements with other countries to face its assertive policies.
Tokyo and Manila are expected to talk on a framework for the transfer of defence equipment and technology during Aquino's visit, despite the fact that Japan has no territorial claims in the South China Sea. However, Beijing has long been disputing with Japan on some uninhabited islands which China calls Diaoyu and Japan calls Senkaku.
The Philippines believes that unless the ASEAN countries halt “Chinese revisionism,” the area will be taken under the “de facto Beijing control” in the medium term.
In this year's ASEAN summit in Malaysia, the Philippines urged the South Asian bloc to take immediate action for preventing Chinese reclamations in the disputed waters.
Manila had filed a case against Chinese claims in the international arbitration tribunal in 2013.
Malaysia, meanwhile, took a more constructive approach and indirectly rejected Manila's offer to stand against Beijing in the summit. Instead, Malaysia sought an "expeditious resolution" to the water disputes without confronting the Beijing leadership in the region.
Aquino also suggested in his Tokyo speech that the US role was key to solve the crisis.
"If there was a vacuum, if the United States, which is the superpower, says 'We are not interested', perhaps there is no brake to ambitions of other countries," he said.
"So, I say again, America's rebalancing sends a definite signal that we are all supposed to be living under norms that we agreed upon."