China on Wednesday said it expects to hold talks with the Philippines on the tense dispute over the South China Sea at an early date, after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that discussions might happen “within the year.” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said they hoped that the talks will happen at an early date.
Lu was responding to the remark yesterday by Duterte, who said the talks over the South China Sea dispute might happen “within the year”.
Chinese official media quoted Duterte as saying that he had no plan to take the South China Sea arbitration to the East Asia Summit next month, and would rather talk about the dispute with China face-to-face. An international tribunal last month adjudicating on a Philippine petition struck down China’s claims over almost all of the SCS and upheld Manila’s right in the area claimed by it.
China, which has undertaken giant land reclamation works in disputed parts of the sea, has vowed to ignore the ruling. It has called for direct talks with the Philippines, but asserted it will not compromise on its claims. Besides the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the South China Sea, through which USD 5 trillion of annual shipping trade passes.
Welcoming Duterte’s remarks, Lu said China will always work with countries directly concerned, including the Philippines, to resolve any dispute through peaceful negotiation and consultation.
China and the Philippines, as friendly neighbours, have the ability and wisdom to settle the issue through consultation and restore friendly relations, Lu said. Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos visited Hong Kong as Duterte’s special envoy earlier this month to pave way for talks with Beijing.