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Thursday, June 16, 2016, 09:20

Manila should drop arbitration

By China Daily

In a recent statement on the dispute with the Philippines in the South China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated China's adherence to the settlement of the disputes through bilateral talks.

It urged the Philippines to immediately stop the unilateral arbitration case it has launched and return to the road of bilateral talks to resolve the South China Sea dispute.

It is widely believed that the Philippines' unilateral arbitration case not only further complicates the South China Sea issue, but also risks bringing its ties with China to a dead end. It is thus sensible for the Philippines to stop the arbitral procedures as early as possible for the sake of bilateral ties.

Beijing and Manila reached an explicit bilateral consensus that the disputes should be settled through bilateral talks. By initiating the arbitration, the Philippines has not only breached that consensus, but also the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

This explains why China's stance on the arbitration case has won the endorsement of international law experts, including those from the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and Argentina, who find China's "non-acceptance and non-participation" stance reasonable and talks as the correct way to settle the dispute.

Some insightful Philippine experts and scholars have also urged Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to hold bilateral talks with China, believing such talks are the right approach to re-build bilateral mutual trust.

China and the Philippines have witnessed ever-expanding cooperation in multiple fields since diplomatic ties were established in 1975. With the conclusion of China's talks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a bilateral free trade area, ties between the Philippines and China can embrace more opportunities for development.

Manila should not allow itself to be swayed by negative factors from the positive track on which general Sino-Philippine cooperation has been progressing

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