MANILA – Chinese President Xi Jinping is open to resolve territorial disputes in the West Philippines Sea via bilateral talks, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said that Xi has opened the lines of negotiations after President Rodrigo Duterte raised the issue of “irritants” in the contested waters.
“Ang binanggit ni Presidente, the “irritants” – refers to everything there. From the presence of the ships, from the alleged harassment, lahat ‘yun,” said Panelo.
He noted that during a meeting with Xi, Duterte brought up West Philippine Sea’s territorial incursions emphasizing the Philippines still an “ally” of China.
“Both sides repeated their previous position on the matter. And they both agree that whatever irritants, challenges, pag-usapan natin through negotiation,” Panelo said.
In July 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated China’s sweeping claims to the South China Sea and largely ruled in favor of the Philippines.
It further affirmed the country’s sovereign rights in some of the areas being claimed by China which fall within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
China meanwhile continues to reject the arbitral ruling based on a historical sweeping claim to almost the entire South China Sea./PN