Manila refuses China talks outside Hague sea ruling
The Philippines’ top diplomat revealed Tuesday that he had rejected China's offer to hold negotiations on the South China Sea outside of an international court’s recent ruling against Beijing's claim to ownership of the disputed waterway.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay told news broadcaster ABS-CBN that the offer was extended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of last weekend’s Asia-Europe meeting in Mongolia.
"They had insisted for us to not even to make any comments about that... and had asked us also to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside of the arbitral ruling," Yasay said in an interview.
He said he told Wang that such a move would not be consistent with the Philippines’ constitution and national interests, while his counterpart warned of a possible confrontation if Manila insisted on the July 12 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
"They said that if you will insist on the ruling and discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation but I really honestly feel that this is something that they had to make on a public basis but I also said that there was room for us to talk quietly using backdoor channeling," Yasay added.
The international tribunal concluded that Beijing's claims to areas of the resource-rich sea have no legal basis in an arbitration launched by the Philippines, whose "sovereign rights” it said China had violated.
China, which has long insisted that the court lacks jurisdiction over issues of sovereignty and maritime delimitation, declared the award "null and void".
Yasay said that during his exchange with Wang, he underlined his wish to see assurance of Filipino fishermen having access to the disputed Scarborough Shoal, from where Chinese Coast Guard vessels reportedly turned Philippine fishing crew away just days after the ruling.
Yasay called on China to rethink its "nine-dash line” claim so as not to lose the respect of the international community, saying the court "really debunked in no unmistakable terms” Beijing’s stance on the matter.
Beijing claims sovereignty over around 90 percent of the sea, an area marked by a so-called "nine-dash line” on Chinese official maps, while the Philippines and other Asian nations have their own claims.
The South China Sea is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, 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.
Last Modified: 2016-07-19 09:15:54
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