MANILA—Chinese President Xi Jinping rejected the Philippines' legal victory against China on the South China Sea after President Rodrigo Duterte raised the arbitral ruling during their bilateral meeting in Beijing Thursday.
"President Duterte was also steadfast in raising with President Xi concerns central to the Philippines' claim in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), which include the ruling held by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. He said that the arbitral award is final, binding and not subject to appeal," Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"In response, President Xi reiterated his government’s position of not recognizing the arbitral ruling as well as not budging from its position," he added.
The Philippines in 2016 won a case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
However, China didn't recognize the ruling and has instead ramped up its militarization efforts in the vital waterway.
"Both President Duterte and President Xi agreed that while their variant positions will have to remain, their differences however need not derail nor diminish the amity between the two countries. They shared the view that the contentious issue is not the sum total of the Philippines-Chinese bilateral relationship," Panelo said.
JOINT GAS EXPLORATION
China may have rejected the Hague ruling, but it has agreed to the creation of a code of conduct in the South China Sea that would help resolve conflicts in the disputed waters.
"Chinese President Xi agreed with President Duterte that there is a need for the formulation of the Code of Conduct and it should be crafted within the last remaining years of PRRD," Panelo said.
Duterte also raised the possible joint gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea, in which Xi responded that a "steering committee created for that purpose should prepare a substantive program on the matter," he added.
Panelo also said China has recognized and confirmed its responsibility on the Recto Bank incident, where a Chinese vessel sank a Filipino fishing boat and abandoned its 22 crewmen.
"He [Duterte] expressed appreciation of China’s readiness to provide compensation to our fishermen who almost lost their lives," he said.
Duterte said the bilateral meeting between the 2 nations went very well, Panelo added.
The Philippines and China also signed 6 agreements in education, science and technology and economy.
Below are the agreements signed by the Philippines and China:
- Exchange of Notes on Cooperation Procedure for the Availment and Utilization of Concessional Loan under a Renminbi-denominated Loan Facility (between the Philippine DFA and the China International Development Cooperation Agency)
- Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Higher Education from 2019 to 2024 (between the Philippine CHED and Chinese Ministry of Education)
- Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (between the Philippine DOST and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology)
- Cooperative Arrangement on the Implementation of the Intergovernmental Agreement Regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters (between the Philippine DOF/BOC and the Chinese General Administration of Customs)
- Implementation Contract on Project of China-Aid Container Inspection Equipment (between the Philippine DOF/BOC and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce)
- Preferential Buyer's Credit Loan Agreement of Project Management Consultancy of the Philippine National Railways South Long Haul Project (between the Philippine DOF and the Export-Import Bank of China)