Philippines rejects talks not based on arbitral ruling; China warns of confrontation

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

Manila, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. on Tuesday revealed that China asked the Philippines to hold bilateral negotiations outside the ruling of an arbitral tribunal to resolve the South China Sea dispute.

Yasay said that he and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had the chance to discuss the tribunal's ruling at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe meeting in Mongolia last weekend.

RELATED: Asia-Europe summit omits mention of South China Sea

"They had insisted for us to not even to make any comments about that... and had asked us also to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside of the arbitral ruling," Yasay said in an interview with ANC's Headstart.

The Foreign Affairs chief, however, rejected Wang's offer citing that it was not consistent with the country's Constitution and national interests.

Yasay added that Wang warned him of a possible confrontation if the Philippines will insist on the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

"They said that if you will insist on the ruling and discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation but I really honestly feel that this is something that they had to make on a public basis but I also said that there was room for us to talk quietly using backdoor channeling," Yasay said.

The top diplomat that he wants to see assurance that Filipino fishermen will be allowed access to the Scarborough Shoal, which China has been claiming.

RELATED: China flies bomber over Scarborough

China should rethink its position on the nine-dash line claim over the disputed sea following the arbitral tribunal's ruling as they may lose the respect of the international community, Yasay said.

"The arbitral tribunal have really debunked in no unmistakable terms the position of China in so far as the nine-dash line is concerned," Yasay said.

Yasay said that China will eventually open up to the possibility of a peaceful settlement to resolve the sea dispute.

The arbitral tribunal had earlier concluded that China does not have legal basis for its historic claims over the disputed waters. The tribunal also ruled that China violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea by building artificial islands in the Philippines's exclusive economic zone.

RELATED: China digs in after tribunal rebuke; Philippines wants talks

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