Shun bilateral talks with China, Duterte urged
A YOUTH group on Friday called on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to shun bilateral talks with China and abide by a future ruling on Manila’s case against Beijing’s claim to the South China Sea.
Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua has renewed Beijing’s call for bilateral negotiations with Manila to settle the dispute in the international waterway.
Rafaela David, spokesperson of Akbayan Youth, said China’s call for the Philippines to drop its arbitration case was “but the latest manifestation of its bullying against Philippine sovereignty.”
The arbitration case, she said, was the country’s “last remaining hope” to defend its territorial integrity over parts of South China Sea.
“Dropping the arbitration case is tantamount to recognizing we are not free to chart our own foreign policy,” she said, reacting to an earlier pronouncement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry for the Philippines to drop the case.
Some 20 members of Akbayan Youth mounted a rally in front of the Chinese Cultural Center in Makati, carrying placards with the messages: “Philippine Sovereignty, Non Negotiable” and “Bilateral Talks, Dangerous to Independence.”
The Permanent Court of Arbitration is expected to issue its ruling in the next few weeks, prompting China to gather support from countries for its massive military build-up and activities in the disputed waters.
At last Thursday night’s opening of the celebration of the 41st anniversary of China-Philippines’ bilateral relations at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Zhao said the friendship between the two countries “goes back to ancient times.”
Commenting on US charges that China was building a “superwall” in the disputed waters, Zhao said: “China does not have the Original Sin of Major Powers.”
“China is committed to the path of peaceful development and pursues a neighborhood diplomacy that treats neighbors as friends and partners,” he added.
The Philippine case pending before the arbitration court in The Hague questions China’s nine-dash line and massive military buildup and activities in the disputed waters.
Ambassador Zhao said that China has been successful in its talks with Vietnam over territorial disputes. “We have long been engaging in dialogues, consultations and negotiations to peacefully resolve relevant disputes.”
He said China’s role as a major economy in the region requires “preserving regional peace and stability.”
He asserted that China “has never lost sight of the larger picture and has been dealing with the South China Sea issue in a constructive and responsible way.”
“The door for negotiation and consultation is always open,” he said.
China claims 90 percent of the 1.35-million-square-mile South China Sea, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan partly claim it.
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