Philippines, China vow closer ties, management of disputes

The military is still to determine on whether it was members of the Chinese Navy or Coast Guard that harassed Filipino fishermen off Union Bank in the Spratlys Island Chain early this month

Philippines, China vow closer ties, management of disputes

China expects and believes that the two countries will consolidate consensus, enhance trust, and clarify misunderstandings through bilateral talks, while properly handling differences and promoting maritime cooperation, to create conditions for solving relevant disputes, said Hua. "We resolved to fully use the mechanisms we have established to dialogue openly, monitor progress, and ensure implementation of projects", he said.

This isn't the first time the Philippines has tried to join forces with China and Vietnam in the South China Sea.

President Duterte was in Beijing for his attendance to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

"If you try your luck there, I am sure we will make it", he said.

"[The] Philippines, China and Vietnam went so far as to venture on a three-way seismic survey that we helped initiate of the disputed areas in the Spratlys chain to assess the area's potential for hydrocarbon exploration and development", he said. This is where the sensitive issues will be discussed, ambassador Jose 'Chito Santa Romana said in Beijing in comments aired by ABS-CBN television.

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The Philippines and China are due this week to hold direct talks on the sea, which Aquino had avoided for fear of placing the Philippines in a vulnerable negotiating position. 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 was terminated after its legality was questioned, while some officials claimed the Philippines was put at a disadvantage since most of the research site was within the country's exclusive economic zone.

China on Tuesday welcomed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's approach for active dialogue and cooperation in handling the South China Sea issue, according to a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson.

"If we can get something there with no hassle at all, why not", he told reporters when asked about a proposal for jointly exploring the sea with China and Vietnam.

He said the deal would need to be "fair and balanced".

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Duterte made no mention of Malaysia and Brunei, the two other Southeast Asian nations that also have claims to the sea.

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

Four agreements were signed during the visit, including a Chinese grant of 500 million yuan (USD 72.5 million) for feasibility studies of infrastructure projects in the Philippines and construction of a drug rehabilitation center.

The United States has provided its defence treaty ally with most of its major hardware, like ships, fighters, helicopters and small arms, but the Philippines was now looking to China and Russian Federation for drones, planes, fast boats and rifles to fight Maoist-led rebels and Islamist militants behind an unrelenting spree of piracy and kidnapping, he said.

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