- The Philippines rejected China’s pre-condition before starting bilateral talks
- China does not want to discuss the arbitral tribunal’s verdict that favored the Philippines regarding the territorial dispute between the two countries
- Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay said his Chinese counterpart said the two countries might be headed for a confrontation if the Philippines insists on discussing the ruling
The Philippine government, through its Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, rejected the proposal of China to start bilateral talks with a pre-condition that the arbitral tribunal’s ruling that nullified most of China’s claims in South China Sea will not be discussed.
Secretary Yasay said he had met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, at the sidelines of the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting that was held recently in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
In an interview with ABS-CBN, Secretary Yasay said Wang Yi insisted that they should not make any comments about the ruling.
“China’s foreign minister had asked us to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside, or in disregard of, the arbitral ruling,” Yasay said.
“This is something I told him was not consistent with our Constitution and our national interest,” he added.
Yasay said his counterpart warned him that the two countries might be headed for a confrontation if the Philippines will insist on discussing the arbitral tribunal’s ruling. But the Foreign Affairs secretary believed that his counterpart’s statement was only for public consumption and felt that China is open to talk about it through back channels.
“They said if you will insist on the ruling, discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation. But I really honestly feel that this is something they have to make on a public basis but I also sensed there was room for us to talk very quietly using backdoor channeling,” he said.
Yasay said the Philippine government’s first priority is to ask China to let the Filipino fisherman to fish at the disputed Scarborough Shoal without being harassed by the China Coast Guard.