Manila seeks formal talks with China on disputed sea

Philippines ex-President Fidel Ramos meets with Chinese officials in Hong Kong after Hague court ruling in favor of Manila

Manila seeks formal talks with China on disputed sea

World Bulletin / News Desk

Former Philippines President Fidel Ramos expressed the country’s desire to hold formal discussions with Beijing on the disputed South China Sea during a visit to Hong Kong as a special envoy to China.

Ramos met with the vice minister of China’s foreign ministry, Fu Ying, and the president of China's National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Wu Shicun, to discuss tensions between the counties over the resource-rich sea.

"Their informal discussions focused on the need to engage in further talks to build trust and confidence to reduce tensions to pave the way for overall cooperation for the benefit of both their peoples and the region," said a statement released by Ramos on Friday.

The Philstar news website also reported that Ramos had been welcomed to China as a special envoy appointed by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

The statement said both parties agreed on the need for building trust, and the officials “reiterated that they are here in their personal capacity and were pleased with the discussions and looked forward to the beginning of a process of formal discussions which will be continued in Beijing and Manila and other possible venues".

Ramos had earlier described his envoy role as an “icebreaker to rekindle, to warm up again our good, friendly, neighborly relations with China".

His visit to Hong Kong comes after a July 12 ruling by an international court based in The Hague in favor of the Philippines in its petition against China’s “nine-dash line” claim on a large part of the sea -- which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

China, meanwhile, has accused the Philippines of having “deliberately mischaracterized” disputes in the sea, declaring the court's award "null and void".

China claims around 90 percent of the South China Sea -- which is believed to be sitting atop huge oil and gas deposits -- but Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also consider some of the region’s waters, islands and reefs to be their territory.

China's reclamation work in the region, which includes the building of airfields, has prompted the United States and its allies to express alarm over the maritime expansion, which they suspect is aimed at extending its military reach.

The sea, a critical asset for global shipping and fishing, sees more than $5 trillion in maritime trade every year.

While the arbitration case had been filed by Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino III, the new leader has said he would not “flaunt” the ruling as he seeks to improve relations for practical reasons, including an offer by China to build a railway in the archipelago.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Ağustos 2016, 11:11
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