Philippines, China hold ‘friendly and candid’ South China Sea talks
MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines and China have held “friendly and candid” talks in the South China Sea, the Philippine Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, days after the minister ordered Chinese ships to leave the waterway challenged in a sworn tweet.
The presence of hundreds of Chinese ships inside the Philippines’ 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been the latest source of tension between the two countries in the South China Sea, through which 3 trillion annually pass. dollars worth of goods.
The Philippines said the invading ships were occupied by militiamen, while Beijing said they were fishing boats sheltered from the elements.
“The two sides had friendly and frank exchanges on the general situation and specific issues of concern in the South China Sea,” as part of a bilateral consultation mechanism convened in 2016 to ease tensions in the waterway strategic, said the Foreign Ministry (DFA). in a report.
“There has been mutual recognition of the importance of dialogue to ease tensions and understand the position and intentions of each country in the region,” said the DFA.
Earlier this month, Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin compared China to “a bad jester” for its behavior on the waterway.
“China, my friend, how politely can I say this? Let me see… O… FUCK OUT, ”Locsin tweeted on his personal account.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who prefers not to provoke Beijing and wants to leverage it for loans and investments, has banned his ministers from speaking about the South China Sea situation in public after the explosion.
Friday’s debate was also touched on when a Philippine fishing boat sank in June 2019 by a Chinese fishing vessel that abandoned Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea. The Philippine Department of Justice will seek compensation for the victims, the DFA said.
Despite recent tensions, ties between the Philippines and China have improved under Duterte, who described the 2016 South China Sea arbitration decision that was in the Philippines’ favor as just a “piece of paper” that ‘he could throw in the trash.
But the Philippines reiterated their call for Beijing to respect international law, including the arbitration award in the talks, the DFA said.
Reporting by Karen Lema; Edited by Lincoln Feast.