PH, China agree to 'properly manage' maritime dispute: Chinese state media

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2018 07:33 PM

China Coast Guard vessels patrol past Philippine fishing boats at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, April 5, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters/File

MANILA- The Philippines and China have agreed to "properly manage" disputes in the West Philippine Sea, Chinese state media reported Thursday.

The two nations have agreed to conduct dialogues and negotiations to address issues in the disputed waters according to Xinhua, citing a statement from China's Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs.

The report comes following a meeting between Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs Director General Yi Xianliang with Foreign Affairs Chief Alan Peter Cayetano and Undersecretary Enrique Manalo.

"Both sides agreed that Beijing and Manila should follow the spirit of consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and properly manage maritime disputes through dialogue and negotiation," Xinhua said.

Manila and Beijing also agreed to "protect peace and stability of the South China Sea," Xinhua said.

China recently stepped up its militarization efforts in the disputed waters, installing military-grade runways, hangars, hardened storage for ammunition, and retractable roofs for anti-cruise missiles, prompting the Philippines to beef up its force in the area.

Malacañang on Thursday confirmed that the Philippines has lodged a diplomatic initiative against China over recent developments in parts of the disputed waters.

"We will resort to all diplomatic initiatives including filing of diplomatic protests when warranted but without fanfare," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Beijing has been reclaiming land and militarizing several shoals in the strategic waterway, including within the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone or the West Philippine Sea.

This, despite Manila's 2016 victory in an international arbitral court which invalidated China's sweeping nine-dash claim to the waters. 

The Philippines has since chosen to pursue dialogue with China as President Rodrigo Duterte sought closer ties with the Asian superpower.