Palace shoots down bilateral talks with China
MALACAÑANG said that engaging China in bilateral talks on contested territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is a complex issue due to the number of countries involved.
“Doon sa partikular na aspeto na pagkakaroon ng bilateral talks, doon po tayo nagkakaroon ng kakaibang pananaw dahil nga sa naipaliwanag ni Pangulong Aquino sa iba’t ibang forum, ’yung kahalagahan po ng ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) centrality, ’yung katotohanan na higit sa dalawang bansa ang sangkot doon sa mga pinag-uusapan diyan (On the issue of bilateral talks, we have a different take because President Aquino has placed importance on ASEAN Centrality and that there are other countries involved in the issue),” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a radio interview on Sunday.
“Marami pong bansa, usually po ay more than two sa bawat pinagtatalunang lugar diyan o features o maritime entitlements diyan sa West Philippine Sea. Kaya iyon po ang ating posisyon. Hindi po ganoon kasimple. (Many countries are claiming territories or features or maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea. That is our position. It’s not that simple),” he added.
Coloma emphasized the need of implementing a legally binding Code of Conduct that will replace the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, a non-binding declaration signed by China and members of the ASEAN members.
He said that while the Philippines is not considering sitting with China in the negotiation table, what is important is that the ties between the two countries remain strong.
“Mainam naman ang pagturing natin at nila (China) sa pangkalahatang bilateral relations. Maayos naman po ‘yung pagkakaibigan ng dalawang bansa, na ayon po sa kanilang ambassador, ito po ay ‘peaceful, friendly at cooperative,’ siyempre po ‘yan din po ang nais ng ating bansa (The overall bilateral relations between the Philippines and China remain well. The friendship between the two countries is strong, and according to their ambassador, the relationship of the two countries is ‘peaceful, friendly, and cooperative’ and that is what the country wants),” Coloma added.
In a Manila Times report, Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said that the China is willing to negotiate with the Philippines on the issue of disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea. He said that there would be no preconditions on the resumption of talks.
Zhao maintained that China would not use military forces to resolve the issue.
Aside from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim various parts of the West Philippine Sea.
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