Palace: A year after Hague ruling, PH-China dialogue going well
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang emphasized ongoing bilateral talks between the Philippines and China as proof of progress since an international court affirmed the Philippines' claim over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) a year ago.
"A year after the ruling of the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration) at the Hague, PH and China are now in dialogue," said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Tuesday, July 11, during a Palace briefing.
On Wednesday, July 12, the Philippines will commemorate the one year anniversary of its landmark victory over China through an international court ruling that invalidated the Asian Giant's "9 dash line." (READ: FAST FACTS: South China Sea dispute)
China uses this line to claim virtually all of the disputed sea, also being claimed by other Southeast Asian nations like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Abella said that in the first bilateral talks held last May, the Philippines and China reiterated "their commitment to cooperate and find ways to strengthen the trust and confidence on issues related to WPS (West Philippine Sea)."
Through the talks, the two claimants "reviewed their experience on the WPS issue" and "exchanged views on current issues of concern to either side."
The two countries agreed to meet again in the second half of 2017 in which they will discuss "mutually acceptable approaches" to resolve the maritime dispute.
Asked if the talks will take up the plight of fishermen unsure if they can now fish in waters claimed by China, Abella said this is likely one issue being taken up in the meetings.
"I'm sure items like that will be considered. However, it's excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country," said Abella.
Much has happened since the Hague ruling, a legacy of the administration of Benigno Aquino III since it was his government which filed the historic case against China.
Duterte virtually single-handedly "restored" diplomatic ties between Manila and Beijing after a chill in relations brought about by the legal victory.
Despite this newfound friendship, however, Duterte himself admitted Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened war if the Philippines "forces the issue" of the ruling.
The Philippine President has bowed under Chinese pressure several times – "correcting" statements made by former Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr, reneging on his vow to visit Pag-asa Island on Independence Day, and allowing Chinese lobbying to influence his Chairman's Statement during the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
However, Duterte stood his ground on the matter of the Philippines' right to improve facilities in Pag-asa Island saying it was the nation's "duty" to do so, whether or not China has claims over the island. – Rappler.com