Philippines has turned down bilateral talks with Beijing over the South China Sea dispute, after China’s insisted that talks should be held against the landmark court ruling.
Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that that Chinese officials had asked Manila for talks, but only if it disregarded last week’s ruling, which went overwhelmingly in The Philippines favor.
“They had asked us also to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations, but outside of and in disregard of the arbitration ruling,” CNN quoted Yasay, as saying. “I told him that this is something that was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest,” he added.
Yasay met China’s foreign minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting, in Mongolia that commenced on July 15.
He said that Chinese officials had said if the Philippines pressed their claims, both countries could be headed for trouble.
“They said that if you will insist on the ruling and discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation,” he said.
Stating that he saw some room for backdoor negotiations, he hoped that China would rethink its stance.
Yasay said his country wanted some assurance that their fishermen will continue to have access to the disputed Scarborough Shoal to fish.
“The tribunal have really debunked in no unmistakable terms the position of China in so far as the nine-dash line is concerned,” he said.
Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed there had been an informal chat between the foreign ministers.
“Wang stated that if the new Philippines government was willing to resume dialogue and consultation with China, manage and control disparities and improve relations, China would like to meet it half way,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The meeting comes a week after the international Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines over China’s territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea.
The court ruled that there was no legal basis for its historic claims to a large area in the South China Sea. The move has directly been ignored by Beijing.