South China Sea Dispute: Philippines Says No to China’s Talk Offer
Philippines rejects China’s offer because of China’s pre-condition of not discussing the tribunal court’s ruling.
The Philippines has turned down a Chinese proposal to start bilateral talks, its foreign minister said on Tuesday, because of Beijing’s precondition of not discussing a court ruling that nullified most of its South China Sea claims.
Perfecto Yasay said he had met his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of a summit of Asian and European leaders on the weekend and after raising the topic of last week’s ruling, it became clear that was a no-go area.
China has angrily rejected the verdict by the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the initial case as illegal and farcical. It has repeatedly said it will not change its approach nor its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.
“They said if you will insist on the ruling, discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation,” Yasay said.
Yasay said Yi had proposed bilateral talks but only on issues “outside, or (in) disregard of, the arbitral ruling,” which he declined because it was not in the Philippines’ national interests.
Manila wanted to enforce the points of the complex ruling step-by-step but as a priority had asked China to let its fishermen go to the Scarborough Shoal without being harassed by its coastguard, Yasay said.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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