Xi, Duterte: ‘Dialogue’ will resolve SCS row
President Xi Jinping rejected an arbitral ruling, which largely favored Manila over Beijing and which Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte brought up in their bilateral meeting on Thursday.
The Hague’s 2016 ruling invalidated Beijing’s sweeping nine-dash claim over the South China Sea (SCS or West Philippine Sea).
“President Duterte was also steadfast in raising with President Xi concerns central to the Philippines’ claim in the West Philippine Sea, which include the ruling held by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. He said the arbitral award is final, binding and not subject to appeal,” Malacañang spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“In response, President Xi reiterated his government’s position of not recognizing the arbitral ruling, as well as not budging from its position,” Panelo added.
Duterte is in China for his fifth official visit from August 26 to September 3.
In a news briefing, Panelo reported that Xi said he was not offended by the raising of the issue.
“Both President Duterte and President Xi agreed that while their variant positions will have to remain, their differences, however, need not derail nor diminish the amity between the two countries. They shared the view that the contentious issue is not the sum total of the Philippine-Chinese bilateral relationship. They likewise are on the same page on the belief that the foundation and future of their countries’ friendship cannot be anchored to their respective positions on the subject, and that the basis of their ties is their centuries-old friendship as well as the benefits that will redound to their peoples by virtue of their cooperation,” Panelo added.
“Both leaders agreed to work together, on the basis of mutual trust and good faith, to manage the South China Sea issue and to continue to dialogue peacefully in resolving the conflict,” he said.
The two leaders also “agreed on the importance of self-restraint and respect for freedom of navigation in — and overflight above — the South China Sea,” according to Panelo.
The Philippines and other Asian countries have overlapping claims to the disputed waters.
In the news briefing, Panelo said the two leaders agreed “that both countries will refrain [from] or avoid performing aggressive, provocative acts that will trigger incidents that have been done before.”
Both Duterte and Xi agreed that they should observe international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for regional peace and security, the Palace spokesman added.
Panelo said in the statement that Duterte said, “It went very well,” referring to the the bilateral meeting,
Based on the statement, the Philippine President expressed his belief that a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea would contribute to resolution of conflicts in contested areas.
“Chinese President Xi agreed with President Duterte that there is a need for the formulation of the Code of Conduct and it should be crafted within the last remaining years [in office] of PRRD,” Panelo said in the statement.
PRRD is President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who will be stepping down in 2022.
“President Duterte likewise raised the possible joint exploration between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea. President Xi, for his part, said the steering committee created for that purpose should prepare a substantive program on the matter,” Panelo said.
“As regards the Recto (Reed) Bank incident, PRRD took note of the fact that the China side has recognized and confirmed the re sponsibility of the Chinese fishing crew. He expressed appreciation of China’s readiness to provide compensation to our fishermen, who almost lost their lives,” he added.
A group of Chinese fishers had apologized for the ramming last June of a Philippine fishing boat near the Recto Bank in the disputed South China Sea by one of its crew.
From The Netherlands, Communist Party of the Philippines founding Chairman Jose Maria Sison on Friday called on Filipinos to remain vigilant over a proposed joint exploration deal between Manila and Beijing in the South China Sea.
Sison, who has been on self-imposed exile in The Netherlands for decades, said a proposed committee for the deal to be headed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. should be “scrutinized” by the Filipinos.
Gabriela Women’s Party also on Friday called for “utmost transparency” in the joint oil exploration deal and other agreements that were signed by Xi and Duterte.
“The government has failed to assert the country’s sovereignty over our territories, he even managed to sign another deal that will burden us more,” Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said.
The signed agreements between the two countries on Thursday were:
– Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on higher education cooperation between the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines and the Ministry of Education of China
– MoU on science and technology cooperation between the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China
– Cooperative arrangement between the Bureau of Customs and Department of Finance (DoF) of the Philippines and the General Administration of Customs of China on the implementation of the intergovernmental agreement regarding cooperation and mutual assistance in Customs matters
– Implementation contract on the project of China-aid container inspection equipment between the Customs bureau and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce
– Exchange of notes on cooperation procedure for availment and utilization of concessional loan under a renminbi-denominated loan facility between the DoF and China International Development Cooperation Agency
–Preferential buyer’s credit loan agreement of project management consultancy of the Philippine National Railways South Long Haul Project between the DoF and the Export-Import Bank of China.
With a reports from DEMPSEY REYES & GLEE JALEA