China open to bilateral talks but won’t accept Hague ruling
The Chinese government is willing to have bilateral talks with the Philippines but insists that it will not recognize the Hague ruling.
“Well, you know our position that we cannot accept the arbitration award, but we do look forward to talk to the Philippines bilaterally over the topics that we have,” Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jinhua said on the sidelines of the National Heroes Day commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday.
Zhao said the Philippines and China should set aside their differences and focus on “common interests.”
“Right now, we need to change our focus; we need to change our focus from differences to common interests so that we can concentrate on cooperation that would benefit our two people,” he said.
Asked about President Rodrigo Duterte’s plea to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Zhao said they would look into the possibility.
“We are looking into the possibility (about) how we handle it,” he said.
Even after the landmark decision of the United Nations tribunal favoring the Philippine’s diplomatic protest, Filipino fishermen still experience harassment from Chinese forces.
Malacañang earlier warned Filipino fishermen to “proceed with caution” in fishing in the disputed waters.
Asked about the possibility of a joint maritime exploration, Zhao said China has always been in favor of maritime cooperation.
“Well, we have always been in favor of maritime cooperation with the Philippines and other Asian countries to protect the ecosystem in the South China Sea and we, even the Chinese government, have even set aside the fund for maritime cooperation,” he said. JE/rga