China welcomes incoming DFA chief's plans for bilateral talks

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing welcomed the plans of incoming Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. to hold bilateral talks to resolve the South China Sea dispute.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying noted that over the 40 years of diplomatic relationship, successive leaders of China and the Philippines have affirmed their agreement to peacefully resolving the sea row.

Hua said that the two countries have conducted face-to-face meetings and have released bilateral political documents to resolve the dispute.

"Such agreement was also the solemn commitment in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea)  jointly signed by the two sides in 2002. Based on the aforementioned consensus, China and the Philippines have effectively controlled the South China Sea dispute through dialogue and consultation," Hua said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

China is hopeful that the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will return to the track of bilateral dialogue and will abide by the consensus on the disputed waters.

"It is hoped that the new government of the Philippines will abide by the relevant consensus and commitment, return to the track of bilateral dialogue, work with China to properly deal with the relevant differences and strive for the sound and steady development of bilateral relations.," Hua said.

Yasay will be the acting Foreign Affairs secretary until the post is turned over to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who is covered by a one-year prohibition on appointing people who ran and lost in a recent election.

The Philippines has a pending arbitration case against China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea before the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations. The international tribunal is expected to issue a ruling soon.

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