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Spotlight: Philippine diplomats urge incoming gov't to conduct bilateral talks with China over South China Sea dispute

(Xinhua)    22:31, June 11, 2016

Philippine diplomats have urged President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's government to launch bilateral talks with China to settle the long-running South China Sea territorial dispute between the two sides.

The call came as the Chinse Foreign Ministry on Wednesday issued a statement on settling disputes between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiations.


"You can't resolve an issue without talking to each other," the Manila Times, one of Philippine's major newspapers, cited Lauro Baja, former Philippine foreign affairs undersecretary and ambassador to the United Nations, as reporting on Friday.

Tension between China and the Philippines have heightened in recent years over the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. In 2013, the Philippines unilaterally initiated an arbitration case against China over the dispute from an international tribunal in The Hague.

Rosario Manalo, Philippines' former foreign affairs undersecretary for international economic relations, said the best thing for both the Philippines and China is to "sit down and talk".

Manalo said that everything can be resolved through bilateral negotiations.

"We should start talking about how to share the fruits of the tree through exploration," the Manila Bulletin, Philippine's another major newspaper, quoted her as saying.

Baja noted that the questions of territorial integrity or maritime entitlement will not be solved solely on legal ground.

"What the department (foreign affairs) or the Philippines may have missed is that they relied too much on the legal ground," he said, adding "Second, we relied too much on the panel and we put all our eggs in the panel."

With Regard to the arbitration, he said he believed that it will not be a total victory for the Philippines nor a total loss for China.

"I think they will come to a decision where there will be opportunities for China and the Philippines to engage in bilateral talks," Baja said.


Manalo, who was the head of the High Level Task Force on ASEAN charter, said the only way to solve the dispute in the South China Sea is to diplomatically talk with China.

Manalo saw no need for the United States to join the negotiations as it doesn't have any claim in the disputed waters in the South China Sea.

"We can't pursue multilateral talks... What's the interest of the United States in us? Do they have any claim to the Philippines or China's territory? The problem is only between us and China," she said.

A U.S. expert suggested the other day that the Philippines could take its case to the United Nations Security Council if China will not abide by the court ruling.

Baja dismissed the recommendation by Ernest Bower, a senior adviser to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He said that China, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, will surely veto such a move. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:任建民,Bianji)

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