Beijing, Manila hold candid talks

2024-01-19 08:17:00China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A maritime affairs meeting attended by a large number of senior Chinese and Philippine officials has agreed to efficiently manage emergencies at sea, a move that analysts said will help prevent bilateral differences regarding the South China Sea from spiraling out of control.

However, Manila's top priorities should be to avoid further provocation on matters of China's core interests, such as the Taiwan question, and to "walk the walk" regarding its verbal commitments, the analysts added.

Assistant Foreign Minister Nong Rong co-chaired the eighth meeting of the China-Philippine consultation mechanism on the South China Sea with Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro in Shanghai on Wednesday.

A wide range of government departments sent representatives to the meeting, including those in charge of foreign affairs, defense, natural resources, ecology, transportation, agriculture and coast guards.

The ties were strained last year by Philippine provocations around Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands, and have been further aggravated by Manila's recent response to topics concerning Taiwan.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said the two sides had "a candid and in-depth exchange of views" on the situation in the South China Sea and maritime issues.

The two countries agreed to continue to advance practical maritime cooperation and create enabling conditions for the sound and stable development of bilateral relations, according to the statement. In particular, the two sides agreed that they would "efficiently manage maritime emergencies, especially the situation on Ren'ai Reef".

Chen Xiangmiao, associate research fellow of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said, "China and the Philippines should further clarify priorities in their relations, and step up coordination and contacts in order to boost their economic and social development and public well-being.

"Some Philippine politicians are expected to stop taking advantage of the maritime disputes and fanning up nationalistic sentiments for their selfish political gains back in their country," he said.

Manila should also be more self-reliant in policymaking and work to rule out disturbances caused by countries outside the region, such as the United States, he added.

During the talks on Wednesday, the two nations agreed to further improve the communication mechanism on the South China Sea and continue to properly manage differences related to the sea through friendly consultation.

Officials from both sides reiterated that the maritime dispute does not constitute the entirety of bilateral relations, and they endorsed maintaining communication and dialogue.

"We have a thousand reasons to live in harmony and create a better future, but no single reason to let specific differences define our overall relationship and hinder our win-win cooperation and progress," said Huang Xilian, Chinese ambassador to the Philippines, in a signed article published in Philippine media.

At the meeting, China also made serious protests to the Philippines on Taiwan-related affairs, asking Manila to effectively abide by the one-China principle. The Philippine side reiterated that it adheres to the one-China policy and will continue to implement it.

Regarding Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr's remarks on Monday on Taiwan election results, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Tuesday that the remarks "seriously go against the Philippines' political commitments to China".

Mao made a further response on Thursday, saying: "The one-China principle is a red line as well as the bottom line. China will never accept anyone making provocations on the Taiwan question and will resolutely fight back."

Beijing urges Manila to stop its wrongful words and actions in affairs related to Taiwan, she added.

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