PH, China dialogue now better a year after UN tribunal ruling—Palace

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (L) prior to their bilateral meeting during the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Etienne Oliveau

Philippines and China’s relations have improved a year after The Hague favored the country’s maritime arbitration case in the South China Sea, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

On July 12, 2016, the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal ruled that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (in the South China Sea) and that China’s nine-dash line was invalid.

“A year after the ruling of the PCA at the Hague, the Philippines and China are now in dialogue,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a Palace briefing.

The Philippines and China have had strained relations due to the longstanding dispute in the South China Sea. However, tensions had eased after President Rodrigo Duterte made efforts to engage China in bilateral talks.

Duterte has maintained a diplomatic approach towards China and has decided to set aside the arbitral ruling for now.

“Last May 2017, both countries conducted the first meeting of the Philippines-China bilateral consultative mechanism on the South China Sea—both sides reiterating their commitment to cooperate and to find ways to strengthen the trust and confidence on issues related to West Philippines Sea,” Abella said.

“Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchange views on current issues of concern to either side, and they have agreed to discuss that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches,” he added.

The Palace official said the Philippines and China have agreed to hold the next bilateral consultative mechanism on the second half of 2017.

“It is excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country,” he said. JE

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