MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed on Friday that China and the Philippines have “generally managed and effectively dealt” with the maritime dispute that has long strained their bilateral relations.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong said this during the opening session of the seventh bilateral consultations mechanism on the South China Sea.
“Maritime issues are an important part of China-Philippine relations that should not be ignored. In the past years, through friendly dialogue and consultations, our two countries have generally managed and effectively dealt with our differences on maritime issues, and we have also advanced our practical cooperation and our mutual trust,” he said.
Sun cited the consensus between China and the Philippines on the peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes, which was agreed upon by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and reelected Chinese President Xi Jin Ping during the former’s state visit to Beijing in January.
READ: PH, China reach consensus on peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes
Both leaders had further committed to establishing a “direct communication mechanism” between their foreign ministries to avoid “miscommunication and miscalculation” in the West Philippine Sea.
Xi, according to Marcos, also promised to “find a compromise and find a solution” that would allow Filipinos to fish again in their traditional fishing grounds in the contested waters.
READ: China to offer ‘compromise’ on PH fishers’ plight – Marcos
“China stands ready to work with the Philippines under the guidance of the important consensus between the two Presidents, and to deepen our communication and cooperation on maritime areas to deliver more benefits to our two peoples, to advance the development of our bilateral relations, and to uphold the stability of the region,” Sun said.
China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea – waters within the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone, along with its offshore oil and gas deposits and natural fishing grounds.
A 2016 decision by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration reaffirmed the Philippines’ sovereignty over the contested waters, invalidating China’s historical nine-dash claim in the South China Sea.
China, however, has repeatedly ignored the landmark ruling. A long history of reports also points to China’s aggression and encroachment in the disputed waters.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo even said that the Asian giant’s harassment of Filipino fisherfolk and the country’s coast guard in the waters was the “daily situation that we face.”