Viernes, 23 Marcha, 2018

Manila, Beijing to open South China Sea talks next week: envoy

Duterte follows Xi's lead with military build-up in South China Sea Wu Hong-Pool Getty Images
Eleena Tovar | 15 May, 2017, 19:55

In his meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Xi said he and the Chinese government attach great importance to China-Philippines ties and are willing to work together to dovetail the two countries' development strategies.

Carlyle Thayer, an analyst at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia, said the document shows the Philippines abstained from referring to a United Nations-backed ruling on the South China Sea dispute, and that the waters are fast becoming "China's lake".

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Santa Romana told reporters late on Saturday that the consultations between the two countries would take place in a Chinese city, but declined to name it.

Also absent from Duterte's 25-page statement issued yesterday, a day after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila, was specific mention of the Philippines' landmark arbitration victory against Beijing's South China Sea claims a year ago. He considers his approach is pragmatic and says challenging China risks triggering a war. China and the Philippines will start bilateral consultations on the disputed South China Sea this week, the Philippine ambassador to Beijing said Saturday.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about US$5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

China claims almost all of the strategically vital waterway, despite partial counter-claims from several regional states including the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the waterway, but China insists it has sovereign rights over nearly all of it.

The detente has seen China commit to three infrastructure projects and pledge to donate two bridges, said Santa Romana, without giving an investment figure.

Meanwhile, China last year also pledged to provide the Philippines USD 24 billion worth of infrastructure projects when Duterte visited China last year wherein he had announced he would realign himself with China and Russian Federation.

"If you go around Beijing right now and you go to the market, you will see.Philippine bananas. Philippine bananas. The Chinese are eating Philippine bananas again and Philippine pineapples", Santa Romana said.

"They have promised to buy over $1 billion worth of tropical fruits from the Philippines and they are interested in buying more".