Philippines declines talks with China over sea dispute

Government insists on multilateral approach to South China Sea row, day after Chinese envoy reiterates offer of diplomacy

Philippines declines talks with China over sea dispute

World Bulletin / News Desk 

The Philippines’ government has again declined a Chinese proposal to settle territorial disputes over potentially resource-rich parts of the South China Sea through bilateral talks.

Herminio Coloma Jr., presidential spokesperson, told reporters Tuesday that the government is firm in its decision on a multilateral approach to the row, particularly through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

GMA News reported him as saying that the country’s stance was “very clear,” stressing the need to comply with a non-binding declaration signed by ASEAN member states and China that covers how disputes over the sea should be resolved.

China, however, argues that under the declaration, the issue should be settled through negotiations with the Philippines.

Coloma’s comments come in the wake of China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, reiterating China's offer to settle the issue diplomatically.

“The best way to settle the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines is through resuming bilateral negotiations without any condition," Zhao said Monday, underlining that China’s door for direct talks “is still open and will be open forever.”

The remarks came a day before a high level Philippine delegation visiting The Hague was set to present its claims to the Permanent Court of Arbitration – which must first decide on whether it has jurisdiction over the case.

Coloma also stressed Tuesday that the Philippines would continue pushing for a legally binding Code of Conduct between ASEAN and China over the sea, and that bilateral ties between the countries remained strong.

"The relations of two nations are not just in the case of the West Philippine Sea, but with people-to-people programs in many areas such as education and economic and cultural cooperation," GMA quoted him as saying.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Temmuz 2015, 17:11