RELATIONS between the Philippines and China have improved since the two countries entered into a dialogue on the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), Malacanang said on Tuesday.
“A year after the ruling of the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration) at the Hague, the Philippines and China are now in dialogue,” Palace Spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters.
Handed down in July 12, 2016 the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) invalidated China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea and said Beijing violated Manila’s sovereign right to fish and explore resources in these waters within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.
Despite this, President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to uphold the decision and opted for a diplomatic approach as he sought to enhance the Philippines’ ties with China that were soured by the conflict.
Abella said that in the first bilateral talks in May, the Philippines and China reiterated “their commitment to cooperate and to find ways to strengthen the trust and confidence on issues related to WPS (West Philippine Sea).”
“The Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views on the current issues of concern to either side,” he said.
Abella said the two countries agreed to meet again in the second half of 2017 in which they would discuss “mutually acceptable approaches” to resolve the maritime dispute.
“It’s excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country,” the Palace official added.