DFA: PH, China renew vow to address sea row without use of threat, force
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and China have reaffirmed their commitment to deal with disputes over the South China Sea through “peaceful means” and “without resorting to threat or use of force.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued this statement Wednesday, after the Fourth Meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) where the two countries discussed specific issues and development in the South China Sea.
This also came as fresh reports surfaced that Chinese militia vessels have been swarming islands within the West Philippine Sea, including Pag-asa Island (Thitu).
“Both sides reiterated their commitment to address disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned,” DFA said.
“Both sides also reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting regional peace and stability, freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea,” it added.
The Philippine delegation led by DFA Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre of the Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs and the Chinese delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou attended the latest BCM.
During the meeting, both countries likewise exchanged views on how to enhance maritime cooperation, particularly on oil and gas development.
“Both sides reiterated that while the contentious issues in the South China Sea should not be ignored, they are not the sum total of the Philippines-China relations and should not exclude mutually beneficial cooperation in other fields,” DFA said.
Recently, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it has monitored a surge of Chinese fishing vessels near Pag-asa Island this year.
The Philippines and China are locked in a longstanding maritime over the South China Sea.
In January 2013, the Philippines filed a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands challenging China’s “nine-dash line” that covers almost the entire South China Sea.
The arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016, which China refused to recognize.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, has chosen to set aside the historic PCA decision, and instead warmed ties with China and engaged in bilateral talks.
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