Roxas reiterates sea claims in meeting with China’s VPBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines—Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas reiterated the Philippine sovereignty over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) when he met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in Beijing last week.
“The Philippine side reiterated our territorial claims. We said that logically because of proximity to our mainland, historically, commonsensically, and even legally because of UNCLOS we have had this claim over Panatag Shoal for all this time,” said Roxas, who was tapped by President Benigno Aquino III as special envoy to the 9th China-Asean Expo .
“China likewise reiterated its territorial claims. So on the matter of territorial claims, both sides reiterated their positions,” he said.
But in Xi’s speech during the same occasion, Roxas said the Chinese official expressed China’s commitment to resolve the conflicts “peacefully through friendly negotiations.”
“We are firm in safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity and are committed to resolving differences with neighbors concerning territorial land, territorial sea, and maritime rights and interests peacefully through friendly negotiations,” Roxas quoted Xi as saying.
Notwithstanding, Roxas said both countries expressed their desire to find common ground to revitalize bilateral relations.
“Both sides expressed their desire to find common ground particularly in reviving the other facets of our bilateral relationship,” he said.
“We talked about the strains in the world economy and how Asean, East Asian economies and nations ought to be prepared and work together to minimize the results of these weaknesses in the world economy. We also talked a little bit about trade as between Philippines and China and tourism,” Roxas said.
There was also discussions, he said, about the process of disengagement in the North Rail contract as well investment by the Chinese State Grid Corporation in our National Grid Corporation.
“So despite these divergent starting points—Philippine side and China side—both sides expressed their sincere desire to prevent further deterioration in our bilateral relations,” he said.
Roxas said his meeting with the Chinese official was conducted in “a cordial atmosphere.”