Yasay turns down talks with China


FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. on Tuesday revealed that he had turned down a Chinese proposal to start bilateral talks because Beijing wanted to set aside last week’s international arbitration tribunal ruling on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute.

Yasay’s efforts to engage Beijing got a boost on Tuesday with President Rodrigo Duterte personally belying rumors the Foreign Affairs chief was on his way out.

“Yasay speaks for me. Everything that he says in public, both national and international, comes from my guidance and he has my backing and full support,” Duterte said in a video clip released by Malacañang.

“I would like the Philippines to know that I personally pleaded with Secretary Yasay to join my government because he is competent, honest and he knows his business,” he added.
Yasay, 69, a lawyer, was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1995 to 2000.

The President had said Yasay, who had to take a leave from a teaching post in the United States, will be acting Foreign Affairs chief for one year or until the post is turned over to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who lost the elections for Vice President in May under the Duterte ticket.

In an interview over the ABS-CBN News Channel, Yasay said he had met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the recently concluded Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in Mongolia, where the latter warned of a “confrontation” if Manila insisted on the ruling.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague nullified China’s historic claims overlapping with the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which includes Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank.

“They had insisted for us to not even make any comments about that … and had asked us also to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside of the arbitral ruling,” Yasay disclosed.

He said he rejected the offer as it was not consistent with the Philippine Constitution and national interest.

In an assertive tone, Yasay urged China to rethink its stance on its “nine-dash line” claim covering most of the South China Sea, as it could lose the respect of the international community.

“Let me say that the arbitral tribunal had really debunked in no unmistakable terms the position of China insofar as the nine-dash line is concerned,” he said, referring to Beijing’s expansive maritime claims demarcated by dashes on its own maps.

Nevertheless, Yasay said he was hopeful that the two countries would eventually find a way to settle the longstanding sea row.

Former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said there was nothing new with China’s strategy.

He urged Yasay to press forward and seek the help of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“It’s very important that we continue to do this and we continue to work with other nations in the responsible community of nations, and the world has to hear about this,” he told reporters.

‘United front needed’
The Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi), a think tank, on Tuesday said Manila should take advantage of the favorable ruling in setting the standard for maritime interactions across the region and to build a united front in engaging China.

“For all our differences, the Philippines and its Asean partners have all had one thing in common, we all know what it is like to be small and exploited,” said political analyst Victor “Dindo” Manhit, president of ADRi during a forum at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati.

He urged the government to present its case as a legal precedent for other Asean claimant-states to the South China Sea territories, to further clarify their respective maritime entitlements and boundaries.

The ruling—and the moral high ground it gave the Philippines—will be key to aligning each country’s respective domestic policies on fishing rights and mineral and oil and gas exploration with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), he added.

Manhit said the Philippine government should also consider synchronizing the country’s defense plan with fellow Asean maritime powers such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

“This can deter and even effectively repulse Chinese encroachments in territorial waters and EEZs,” he pointed out.

The Philippines, the analyst added, can even invoke its 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States, in addition to strengthening military partnerships with Japan, South Korea, Australia and the European Union, all of which have expressed support for the Philippines’ case.

This setup could lead to the establishment of defense economic zones in the Philippines, which could be the hub for naval or coast guard ship manufacturing.

“The Philippines must build on its political capital by sending a stern message in … upcoming regional fora that China, as a rising power, must play a constructive, rather than destabilizing, role in the region,” Manhit said.



Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. i guess these guys who commented were assuming filpino names.
    many of you laugh when the philippine government file the case against china.,,well the result speaks for itself, every idea is worth analyzing..,,,,,if i were you, just support the philippine initiative no matter how stupid you think those ideas are.

  2. Juan T. Delacruz on

    This is the whole truth about China’s intention to implement their nine dash line.They strategically created those artificial islands to support their purpose and once they nationalize those artificial islands that they created, they can redraw their Air Defense Identification Zone or ADIZ. What are the end results when China redraw their ADIZ?

    The International Waters is no longer an International waters and all commercial ships and planes that once use this paths can no longer sail nor fly because the area is guarded and under the control of the Chinese Navy. Commercial and private planes traveling to Palawan using that route will be prohibited because it would be in violation of China’s ADIZ. Can a Pinoy, who’s in the right frame of mind can see this?

    Secondly, The Americans will not allow this to happen because, nakataga na sa bato, they will NOT comply to the dash nine line, and they will continue to sail, fly, patrol or swim in any international waters in the world because the law allows them to do so. This is a very bold statement from the Pentagon, and I wish Chinese Navy starts firing on any U.S. ships that patrol in the area and see what happens. China cannot afford to engage or go to war with the U.S. because they know that they will be defeated. If the U.S. Congress declare war with China, they will be crushed, plain and simple.

    China has one rebuilt aircraft carrier and that is basically it. Philippines doesn’t have to do anything if war beaks out in South Pacific. Just let the Americans used the bases identified under EDCA agreement. U.S, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and England will be there shoulder to shoulder with Americans. Did anybody asked how can British get involved in war in South Pacific? British owns Diego Garcia and who do you think the “Head of State” of England, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand? Here is the bottom line- China cannot afford to go to war with the U.S. and they also understand that it is not a good bet to stop U.S. Navy, sailing on the International Waters in South China sea.

  3. By proposing to hold talks, China is already negotiating. And their move is to ask Philippines to “set aside” the UNCLOS ruling.

    Sec. Yasay was tactically and legally correct to refuse Wang Yi’s proposal to hold talks with preconditions. Wang would have been very surprised if he accepted.

    The purpose was just to get the press to run headlines saying, “Philippines rejects talks…”

  4. Mr. Yasay is indulging in fantasy with PCA ruling. The words of China are more powerful than the PCA ruling. The world needs China. Let sanity and economic prosperity prevail in talks with China.

  5. Juan T. Delacruz on

    Excellent job Mr. Yasay! Tell the Chinese to abandon the artificial islets that they constructed, as well as the artificial island they constructed within the Philippines’ economic zone, and not to block the International Waters. Remind them also that Filipino fishermen can once again go to their favorite fishing ground and eventually, commercialize that area so Philippine government can employ drug addicts as part of their rehabilitation. These people were addicted to drugs that were manufactured in China and smuggled into the country by Chinese citizens. This is one of the interests of the country that must be protected and a non-negotiable issue.

  6. francis liew on

    You can forget this strategy of building a defense hub. Without money, which the Philippines don’t have, there will be no ship building hub. Furthermore no European, Australian, Japanese and even American government will build a warships manufacturing hub in teh Philippine. This is a fantasy of the President of the ADRI, Manhit.. What is amazing is that a think tank, a repository of the national intellectuals is thinking in a box. There is something wrong with the development of the nation intellectuals if they can only think like the West do and not “out of a box”.
    Foreign secretary Yasay blunt rejection of China offer to start bilateral negotiation is also uncalled for and “playing to a nationalist gallery”. The Philppines would get nothing for it. As for galvanizing the rest of Asean to counter China intrusions into the SCS, it will also comes to nothing as they have too much economic stakes involved in their China trade and furthermore their coastguard ships in number and tonnage is pitiful compared with the Chinese maritime service.Don’t even think of countering the PLAN with warships. The most modern warship the Philippine navy has, The Gregorio del Pilar is an ex US coastguard cutter called the Hamilton, decades old and decommissioned by the USN.Should it come to a fight, the Chinese Maritime Services ships of 10,000 tons would simply ram it to sink it. This is not to speak badly of the men serving in the Philippines navy or coastguards. They simply lack the tools to fight against the Chinese and worst of all the politicians knew it but out of braggadocio kept quiet, knowing that there will be no war with China.

    • Sec. Yasay rejected negotiations with Chinese preconditions. Attaching preconditions to talks is a common negotiating tactic.

      The Philippines is the world’s fourth largest shipbuilding nation.

      Another common tactic is called misdirection. “Don’t even think about countering PLAN with warships.” This is get people thinking about countering with warships. The fact is to defeat any ship, even one as “big” as 10,000 tons, it is not necessary to use another ship. Ship-to-ship is so 19th century.

      Therefore, your assignment Francis is:

      1) Find out all those other ways of defeating warships developed since the Spanish-American War (1898).
      2) Check how “big” a 10,000 ton ship is compared to other ships in the world.