Chinese and Filipino diplomats held the first bilateral consultation on the South China Sea on Friday (May 19), where they discussed a mechanism to avoid conflict and resolve maritime dispute in one of Asia’s potential flashpoints.
China said it hoped the mechanism would bring mutual trust between the two sides
“The mechanism is a means for building mutual trust and fostering cooperation on the seas, and is a platform for (ensuring) safety on the seas. The two countries can use this to fully communicate their thoughts, reach consensus, increase goodwill and increase mutual trust. (It will) further improve the foundation of public opinion and create a positive environment for the stable development of China-Philippine relations,” said China’s Vice Foreign Minister, Liu Zhenmin.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Santa Romana opened the event, with the banging a gong.
China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has opted to court China for its business and investment and avoid the rows over sovereignty that dogged his predecessors. He has been accused by critics of taking a defeatist position on China and on defending Philippine sovereignty.