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South China Sea dispute: China calls for new start with the Philippines

With A Tough-talking Filipino Politician Claiming Victory In The Presidential Polls, China Today Called For A Fresh Start In Ties With Manila Amidst Their Raging Row Over The Disputed South China Sea.

PTI | Updated on: 10 May 2016, 10:27:04 PM

Beijing:

With a tough-talking Filipino politician claiming victory in the presidential polls, China today called for a fresh start in ties with Manila amidst their raging row over the disputed South China Sea.

China, which has been dragged to a UN tribunal over maritime disputes by the Philippines, is on the defensive as it believes the tribunal’s verdict may go against it adding a new dimension to the SCS in which the US is playing a major role.

With the unofficial count of votes showing longtime Davao city mayor Rodrigo Duterte winning the Philippine presidential election, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said:

“China hopes the Philippines’ new government can work in the same direction with China, properly handle our differences and get bilateral ties back on track with concrete actions.”

Asked for China’s reaction to Duterte’s election, Lu told reporters here that China has always attached great importance to maintaining relations with the Philippines.

“However, China-Philippines ties have suffered from severe difficulties in recent years, due to well-known reasons,” he said, alluding to the maritime disputes in the SCS, one of the world’s most strategically-important waterways.

China and the Philippines have endured steadily worsening relations in recent years as they sparred over joint claims to parts of the SCS.

The Philippines has signed a new defence pact with the US and filed a legal challenge with a UN tribunal asking it to rule the Chinese claims to most of the sea invalid.

Duterte has called for multilateral talks involving the United States and Japan as well as rival claimants to resolve these disputes, but Lu ruled out this possibility.

He said China advocates the dual-track approach proposed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Under this, the directly concerned states would negotiate in line with international law while China and ASEAN countries would work together to maintain regional peace and stability.

China has ratcheted up its rhetoric over the SCS amid a report that a tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS) - hearing the Philippines petition - is set to deliver its verdict in the next few months.

China has boycotted the tribunal’s proceedings claiming it was illegal.

China claims the whole of SCS. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the area.

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First Published : 10 May 2016, 10:25:00 PM

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