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Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 09:27

Bilateral talks only way forward, Philippines told

By Xinhua

Bilateral talks only way forward, Philippines told
Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte (right) meets China's ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during a courtesy call in Davao City, in the southern island of Mindanao on May 16, 2016. (POOL / AFP)
BEIJING, June 8 - The Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed in a statement Wednesday that China will stay committed to settling relevant disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea only through bilateral negotiation.

In the statement, the Foreign Ministry points out that before the Philippines' unilateral initiation of the South China Sea arbitration on 22 January 2013, the overall situation in the South China Sea had remained stable despite certain disputes between China and the Philippines therein.

But ever since its initiation of the arbitration, the Philippines has unilaterally closed the door of settling the South China Sea issue with China through negotiation, and has, while turning its back on the bilateral consensus regarding managing differences, "taken a series of provocative moves that infringed upon China's legitimate rights and interests". "This has led to dramatic deterioration of China-Philippines relations as well as of peace and stability in the South China Sea", the statement reads, while iterating, "China is firmly opposed to the Philippines' unilateral actions."

China makes it clear in the statement that territorial sovereignty issues are not subject to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

It is not only the Chinese government's consistent policy, but also a clear agreement reached between China and the Philippines, to settle their relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation.

It is also pointed out in the statement that China and the Philippines never conducted any negotiation on the subject-matters of the arbitration initiated by the Philippines.

According to the statement, China had on a number of occasions proposed to the Philippines the establishment of a China-Philippines regular consultation mechanism on maritime issues; however, to date, there has never been any response from the Philippine side. On 1 September 2011, the two countries issued the Joint Statement between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Philippines, reiterating the commitment to settling the disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation.

The statement also makes it clear how, by unilaterally initiating the arbitration, the Philippines has violated its agreement with China to settle the relevant disputes through bilateral negotiation.

"Second, by unilaterally initiating the arbitration, the Philippines has violated the right, as provided for in UNCLOS, of a State Party to UNCLOS to choose the means of dispute settlement of its own will.

"Third, by unilaterally initiating the arbitration, the Philippines has breached Article 283 of UNCLOS regarding the duty of exchange of views," reads the statement.

Iterating that negotiations were the only acceptable mechanism, China stresses in the statement that on issues concerning territory and maritime delimitation, it "does not accept any means of dispute settlement imposed on it; nor does China accept any recourse to third party settlement. The door of China-Philippines bilateral negotiation is always open."

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