From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 20): China, PH to resolve contentious issues in SCS
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday assured Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte that the governments of China and the Philippines will continue to find ways to resolve “contentious issues” in the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) through “friendly” discussion.
Xi made this remark in a joint press statement with Duterte at the Reception Hall in Malacañang during his historic state visit to the Philippines.
“China and the Philippines have a lot of common interests in the South China Sea. We will continue to manage contentious issues and promote maritime cooperation through friendly consultation,” Xi said in his speech.
Xi also said both countries will work alongside other Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) member states toward the conclusion of the code of conduct (COC) while the regional bloc works on its draft.
“We will work with other ASEAN nations towards the conclusion of COC consultations based on consensus within three years and contribute our share to peace, stability and welfare in this region,” Xi said.
Xi said China and the Philippines must unite to uphold the interests of the developing world and at the same time promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.
Duterte, who spoke before Xi, did not specifically mention the South China Sea in his speech, but said he is “pleased” by the current relationship between the two countries.
“I am pleased with the current positive momentum of the Philippines-China relations,” Duterte said.
“There is a deepening trust and confidence [between] our governments, and we have greatly increased dialogue and interaction on many levels,” he added.
Duterte earlier shelved the arbitral ruling on the disputed sea after China rejected the verdict, to allow a peaceful and friendly settlement of the dispute.
He also expressed hope that he will work closely with Xi to “deepen” the relationship between both countries to secure “a peaceful and prosperous future” for the entire region.
Xi’s state visit to the Philippines is the first state visit of a Chinese President in 13 years. His visit is to reciprocate Duterte’s state visit to China in 2016.