Noting that the South China Sea dispute is only "1% of the overall relationship" between the Philippines and China, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said the two countries should focus on matters that would benefit the peoples of both countries.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Beijing's position on South China Sea arbitration remains unchanged — Chinese envoy
( - August 9, 2019 - 4:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — China still refuses to acknowledge the United Nations-backed tribunal's ruling on the disputed South China Sea, Beijing's top envoy in Manila said.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said Beijing's position on the arbitration has been clear since it was filed before the Hague-based inetrnational tribunal.

"When the result of the arbitration came out, we also expressed that we will not accept it and we will not recognize it and that position has not changed and will not be changed," Zhao told reporters Friday.

Despite China's position on the matter, Zhao said his country remains committed to working with the Philippines on enhancing friendship and cooperation.

"The differences over the South China Sea only constitutes 1% of our overall relationship," the Chinese envoy added.

Zhao's remarks came days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared that he will raise the arbitral ruling in his upcoming visit to China this month.

The Chinese envoy, however, noted that he does not recall Duterte using the term "invoke", referring to the arbitral ruling that invalidated Beijing's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

"He said, if I remember it correctly, he will not mention it in a non-confrontational and friendly manner," Zhao said.

In a speech at the mass oath taking of newly-elected officers of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. last Tuesday, Duterte said he will raise the arbitral ruling in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

''Yung arbitral ruling pag-uusapan natin 'yan. That's why I'm going to China. I'm not goint to tell you the agenda. I'm going to talk. Did I not tell you before that before my term ends we will be talking about (South) China Sea?" Duterte said.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said Duterte and Xi will sit in a one-on-one dialogue to discuss businesses between the Philippines and China.

According to Panelo, the president will raise the arbitral ruling to discuss the proposed 60-40 sharing in the proposed joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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