China calls on Manila to solve maritime disputes via talks
BEIJING—China has called on the Philippines to work with China to use the power of negotiation to solve disputes on the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks at a daily press briefing Saturday in response to remarks made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the first meeting of his cabinet after his inauguration Thursday.
“God knows I don’t want to declare any fighting with anyone. If we can have peace by just talking I’ll be really happy,” said Duterte, who had previously said that he was open to talking with China about the maritime disputes. Philippine presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Friday that Duterte wanted a “conversation” with China on the South China Sea to work out a “win-win relationship” with the country.
Hong said the disputes are ultimately issues between China and the Philippines. The South China Sea arbitration initiated by former President Benigno S. Aquino III is invalid and illegal, he said.
“The disputes between China and the Philippines can only be solved via bilateral negotiation on the basis of fully respecting historical facts and in line with international laws,” said Hong. Alberto Encomienda, former secretary-general of the Maritime and Ocean Affairs Center of the Philippine Foreign Affairs Department, said recently in an interview with Xinhua that the Philippine government had been behind the increasing tensions in the South China Sea.
“China has championed negotiations all along, but at the beginning we were not,” he said. Hong said these facts revealed by the former Philippine diplomat “show once again the Aquino III government lied” for the unilateral initiation of the arbitration on the South China Sea at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The tribunal said it would issue a ruling on July 12. Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case and the relevant subject-matter, and that it should not have heard the case or rendered the award.
‘‘We hope the Philippines can work together with China and meet each other halfway so that the disputes are solved properly” — Ernesto Abella