Published: Tue, May 30, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

China, Philippines confirm consultation mechanism on S China Sea

The framework represented progress, but expectations should be realistic, said Jay Batongbacal, a Philippine academic and expert on the South China Sea.

Southeast Asian nations and China should start with a "gentleman's agreement" on the busy South China Sea waterway because no mechanism exists to legally enforce any deal, the Philippine foreign minister said on Friday.

While military infrastructures development seems to be expanding in the South China Sea, the Philippines and China have agreed to regularly meet at least twice a year to discuss how to ease tensions in the South China Sea where the Hague court, last year, rejected China's vast claims in the South China Sea and said that those claims have no legal basis.

"As long as China threatens the Philippines with war over the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines can never lower its guard in its dealings with China", Carpio explained. "It will provide a good foundation for the next round of consultations", Mr. Liu was also quoted as telling the South China Morning Post.

Held since 1994, it is the 24th edition of the annual exercise between the two countries.

"The disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea are not the sum total [of] our relations with China, but we are cognizant of the warmer relationships we have in the region", he added.

Carpio said, "The Philippines can also bring China's threat to go to war against the Philippines before the United Nations General Assembly by sponsoring a resolution condemning China's threat of war against the Philippines and demanding that China comply with the ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal".

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In the spirit of the friendly dialogue between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the latter' s State Visit to China in October 2016, and as agreed by both China and the Philippines, the First Meeting of China-Philippines Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM) was held in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China on 19 May 2017. "We are very realistic and practical", said the source, who declined to be identified.

The Duterte administration need not rush into joint exploration arrangements with China before Beijing first acknowledges Philippines's sovereignty over its resource-rich territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Sen.

"We did not hear that from his Chinese counterpart", he said, referring to Duterte's statements made in Davao City, where the President revealed Xi's war threat.

China said the exercises should not hurt the interests of other countries. "We wanted first to pick the low hanging fruit". That document saw all eleven parties pledge their commitment to eventually conclude a binding code of conduct. "Given it's been 15 years to get to a draft, I'm not really holding my breath", he added.

China claims nearly all of the resource-rich South China Sea (SCS), including islands more than 800 miles from the Chinese mainland, despite objections from neighbours such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam. The Philippines' ambassador to China, Jose Santiago Romana, said the delegates "touched on it [but] didn't dwell on it".

Both sides reviewed their experiences on the South China Sea issue.

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