BEIJING, May 17, 2017 — China will host the first bilateral consultation mechanism meeting with the Philippines on the South China Sea issue in Guiyang, Guizhou province on Friday, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry Affairs.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying announced that representatives from both countries will tackle issues reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
“The two leaders once again reached important consensus on properly resolving the South China Sea issue through dialogue and consultation, which serves the fundamental interests of China, the Philippines and people in the region as well as peace and stability of the South China Sea and beyond,” Hua said.
Aside from working on the implementation of relevant consensus reached between Presidents Xi and Duterte, Hua said China is committed to maintain the long-term development of bilateral relations as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea.
“It is also in line with the responsibilities that must be shouldered by China and the Philippines as regional countries. The two sides will have friendly dialogues and consultations on the South China Sea-related issues,” she said.
The bilateral meeting will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana.
The Philippines-China relations has been rejuvenated following President Duterte’s four-day state visit in Beijing in October last year upon invitation of President Xi.
Last weekend, President Duterte returned to China for the first Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation. On the sidelines, he and the Chinese leader held bilateral meeting.
The Philippines-China relations hit snag after the Philippines filed an arbitration case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in Jan. 22, 2013 to contest China’s ‘nine-dash line’ claim on South China Sea.
A month after President Duterte took his oath as President in June last year, the UN-backed arbitration court released its judgment in favor of the Philippines.
However, President Duterte decided to temporarily shelve the PCA verdict to allow the resolution of the maritime dispute through peaceful dialogues and consultations.
President Duterte’s decision was warmly welcomed by China, resulting in USD 24 billion worth of investment pledges and infrastructure projects and signing of trade and people-to-people agreements.
Aside from bilateral meeting, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries is set to hold 14th Senior Officials’ Meeting on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
Hua said senior officials from the 10 ASEAN member states and the representative of the Secretary-General of the ASEAN will attend the meeting upon invitation.
“The meeting will focus on the development of China-ASEAN relations and regional cooperation of East Asia and lay a groundwork for such high-level meetings within this year as China-ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting and Foreign Ministers’ Meeting,” Hua said.
The high-level talks will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Chee Wee Kiong, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Singapore and coordinator of China-ASEAN relations, on Thursday.
Hua said the 21st Joint Working Group Meeting on Implementing the DOC will be held back-to-back before the high-level meeting.
“China will continue to have an in-depth exchange of views with the ASEAN member states on implementing the DOC, promoting maritime cooperation and conducting consultations on the COC (Code of Conduct),” Hua said.
She also announced that the 23rd China-ASEAN Senior Officials’ Consultation will be held on Friday with Liu and Kiong as co-chairs.
Aside from the Philippines and Singapore, other ASEAN members include: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam also have respective claims to parts of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea territory. (Jelly F. Musico/PNA)