March 21, 2018

Philippines, China vow closer ties, management of disputes

17 May 2017, 02:22 | Kara Nash

Duterte: Both PH and China cannot afford to go to war

Philippines, China vow closer ties, management of disputes

The #Philippines and #China will open bilateral talks on their dispute over the South #China Sea next week, Manila's ambassador to Beijing said yesterday.

President Duterte was in Beijing for his attendance to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. "Masisira tayong dalawa (Both of us will be destroyed)", Duterte said in remarks upon his arrival here from Beijing.

"The first session will be next week but this will be a session that will continue on a twice-yearly basis, a chance to exchange views on the South China Sea issue", he said.

De Venecia also said that the proposal will bring economic benefits to both countries. In 2005, the previous Philippine President Gloria Arroyo made an agreement with China and Vietnam to study oil deposits across the region but the deal collapsed, causing Arroyo to declare that "you can not trust the Chinese".

But the deal collapsed after Filipino politicians questioned its legality.

Santa Romana said Duterte's attendance at the Silk Road summit should not be seen as the Philippines abandoning or "giving up" its claim of sovereignty in the South China Sea.

China and Vietnam will manage and properly control their maritime disputes, avoiding actions to complicate or widen them, so as to maintain peace in the South China Sea, the two nations said in a joint communique China released on Monday. He emphasised that the deal would have to be "fair and balanced".

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The competing claims to the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits, have for decades made it one of Asia's potential military flashpoints.

Duterte, who took office previous year, abandoned the policy of his predecessor, Benigno Aquino 3rd, to forcefully challenge Beijing in diplomatic circles and instead sought to fix bilateral relations.

He has said his decision earned billions of dollars in Chinese investment and aid.

The Agreement will serve as the basis for the grant to be provided by China to the Philippines, to implement the grant of RMB 500 million to conduct feasibility studies for major projects, construction of the drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation center and bridges crossing the Pasig River.

Officials also discussed the economic developments in the country, the recently approved Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017 to 2022, and updates on bilateral cooperation in areas of infrastructure, trade, investments, agriculture, fishery, tourism, and financing cooperation between Philippines and China.

"China is very liberal and generous", he said.

With many infrastructure projects in the pipeline, the President minced no words in reminding Philippine courts not to give the government a hard time in implementing these projects which are sometimes delayed by restraining orders.

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