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China expects to 'disperse suspicion' in planned talks with Philippines

In this April 21, 2017 photo, corroded steel plates are seen at the end of the airstrip on the Philippine-claimed Pag-Asa Island off South China Sea. The Philippines started transporting troops and supplies to a disputed island in the South China Sea in preparation for construction work that includes reinforcing and lengthening an airstrip and building a dock, an official said Thursday, May 11, 2017. China protested the visit April 2017 by the Philippine defense and military chiefs to Pag-asa Island, home to Filipino soldiers and fishermen for decades, but which is also claimed by Beijing. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — China is hoping to build up consensus, enhance mutual trust and disperse suspicion in its upcoming bilateral consultation mechanism with the Philippines on Friday.

The revived talks between the Philippines and China can be considered a "new chapter" in handling the South China Sea dispute, Ambassador Chito Sta. Romana said.

"We look forward to working with the Philippine side to ensure the success of this meeting," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press briefing Tuesday.

Beijing is also expecting that the two countries will properly manage disputes and move forward in maritime practical cooperation through the dialogues.

READ: Philippines enters 'new chapter' in handling sea row with China

"The meeting aims to establish an institutional platform for dialogues on the South China Sea-related issues in accordance with the spirit of the important consensus reached between Chinese and Philippine leaders last October," Hua said.

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The meeting is expected to lead to making conditions more favorable towards the final settlement of the maritime dispute.

In a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, President Rdorigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on resolving the sea dispute.

Duterte has effectively set aside a ruling by an arbitral tribunal in 2016 that found China's sweeping nine-dash-line claim is not backed by international law. He has said he will bring it up at some unspecified point in time.

Beijing has commended Duterte for his commitment to conducting dialogue and cooperation to resolve the issue and preserve peace and stability in the region.

"China would like to work with the Philippines to implement the relevant consensus reached between the two leaders, and maintain the long-term development of bilateral relations as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea, which is also in line with the responsibilities that must be shouldered by China and the Philippines as regional countries," Hua said.

Security officials of the Philippines have expressed concern over China's ongoing militarization of their occupied areas in the Spratly Islands.

Two out of nine Philippine-occupied islands — Pag-asa Island and the Ayungin Shoal outpost — are under direct threat from China's militarization.

“These two areas are very close to the now-Chinese highly-militarized artificial islands out of Zamora (Subi) Reef and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef,” a senior security official said.

The two militarized artificial islands could choke Pag-asa and Ayungin Shoal, according to the official.

RELATED: Why China is likely to militarize Scarborough Shoal

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