Xi offers ‘friendly consultations’ on sea dispute
Chinese President Xi Jinping assured the Philippines that Beijing will “manage contentious issues” in the South China Sea through “friendly consultations,” promising China’s cooperation with Southeast Asian nations for a code of conduct (COC) in the disputed body of water.
In his joint statement with President Rdorigo Duterte, Xi declared “China and the Philippines have a lot of common interests in the South China Sea.”
“We will continue to manage contentious issues and promote maritime cooperation through friendly consultation, and work alongside other ASEAN countries towards the conclusion of the COC consultations based on consensus within three years, and contribute our share to peace, stability, and welfare in this region,” he said.
“Faced with the big issues of peace and developments,” Xi said China and the Philippines “must join hands to uphold the interests of the developing world, resist protectionism and unilateralism, and promote peace, stability and prosperity in our region and beyond.”
As for Duterte, he reaffirmed the country’s support for the completion of a “sustainable” sea code in the South China Sea.
“I personally conveyed to President Xi my appreciation for his valuable support for the Philippines’ many initiatives in regional and international spheres, particularly during our ASEAN chairmanship last year and the Philippines’ current Country Coordinatorship of Asean-China Dialogue Relations leading to a sustainable Code of Conduct,” he said.
The Philippines and China are locked in a longstanding maritime dispute over the South China Sea.
Beijing claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated this in July 2016, favoring the Philippines’ rights over the area.
China, however, refused to recognize the historic ruling that was based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Duterte has chosen to set aside the landmark decision, and instead engaged China in bilateral talks. /kga
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