Bilateral talks with China on sea row impossible – DFA
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - July 16, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - China’s claim of indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea has made it impossible for Manila to continue bilateral discussions to resolve disputes in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said China’s statement debunking the Philippines’ claim that it had exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful settlement of  the dispute is “baseless.”

“The Chinese unequivocal message is for us to first accept that the South China Sea belongs to them before we will talk. It has, therefore, become impossible to continue bilateral discussions on disputes in the West Philippine Sea with China on the basis of this rigid position,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez noted that “no progress has been made” after more than 17 years of consultations even though the Philippines had previously stated on various occasions that Manila and Beijing have been exchanging views on these disputes to achieve negotiated solutions.

He said the consultations have been continuing since the first Philippines-China Bilateral Consultations on the South China Sea Issue in August 1995.

“Since intrusions in the Bajo de Masinloc started in April 2012 alone, we have had nearly 50 consultations with China,” he added.

He said the Philippines also clarified during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Brunei that it invited China to hold informal talks. This was held early last year, including a two-day session in Manila.

But Hernandez said subsequent plans to meet were overtaken by continuing Chinese intrusions in disputed areas.

“We had all along been indicating publicly our three-track approach of diplomatic, political, and legal tracks, including arbitration,” he said.

Contrary to China’s declaration that the Philippines did not signal a possible arbitration track, Hernandez said there was an invitation to bring the issue to a dispute settlement mechanism through a note verbale on April 26, 2012.

 

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS BUT HERNANDEZ CHINA DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS HERNANDEZ MANILA AND BEIJING PHILIPPINES-CHINA BILATERAL CONSULTATIONS RAUL HERNANDEZ SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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