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

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