Manila, Beijing to open South China Sea talks next week: Official

channelnewsasia

 
File photo of the South China Sea. (AFP/Ritchie B Tongo)

MANILA: The Philippines and China will open bilateral talks on their dispute over the South China Sea next week, Manila’s ambassador to Beijing said on Saturday (May 13).

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to deepen relations with China despite its extensive island-building in disputed parts of the South China Sea, in the hopes of securing billions of dollars’ worth of investments from Beijing.

“We will inaugurate the bilateral consultative mechanism on issues of particular concern to each side. This is where the sensitive issues will be discussed,” Ambassador Jose “Chito” Santa Romana said in Beijing in comments aired by ABS-CBN television.

Santa Romana made the comments ahead of Duterte’s arrival in Beijing to attend the One Belt, One Road summit on Sunday and Monday – a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“The first session will be next week but this will be a session that will continue on a twice-yearly basis, a chance to exchange views on the South China Sea issue,” he said.

China claims nearly all of the strategically vital waterway, despite partial counter-claims from several regional states including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Santa Romana said the Duterte administration was putting the South China Sea dispute on a separate track while pursuing economic and diplomatic relations with China, adding that previously bilateral ties had been “frozen” because the territorial row had taken centre stage.

“There is a whole sphere of relationships you can fast-track without giving up your sovereignty claim. To put it on a separate track is not to abandon or give up but rather to compartmentalise it,” he said.

Duterte has sought closer ties with China and Russia while distancing the Philippines from its traditional ally, the United States.

Last month, he alarmed observers when he issued a chairman’s statement, after hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, which took a soft stance towards Chinese actions in the South China Sea.

The statement merely took note of “concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments in the area”.

It also ignored an international tribunal ruling last year which said China’s claims to most of the sea were unlawful.

Leaders from nearly 30 nations are attending next week’s forum in Beijing, which will showcase Xi’s grand plan to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes by bankrolling rail, maritime and road projects across Asia, Europe and Africa.

Source: AFP/dl

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This entry was posted in Biển Đông (SCS), China - Philippines relationship and tagged , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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