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On the South China Sea, the Philippines and China hold 'friendly and candid' talks

Berita 24 English - The Philippines and China held "friendly and candid" talks about the South China Sea on Saturday, the foreign...

Berita 24 English
- The Philippines and China held "friendly and candid" talks about the South China Sea on Saturday, the foreign ministry of the Philippines said, days after the foreign minister ordered Chinese vessels to leave the disputed waterway in an expletive-laced tweet.

The presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels within the Philippines' 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been the latest source of friction between the two countries in the South China Sea, which is home to $3 trillion in annual trade.

The Philippines asserted that the encroaching vessels were operated by militia, while Beijing asserted that they were fishing boats seeking shelter from inclement weather.

"The two sides exchanged friendly and candid views on the general situation and specific issues of concern in the South China Sea," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement. The bilateral consultation mechanism was established in 2016 to ease tensions in the strategic waterway.

"There was widespread recognition of the critical role of dialogue in alleviating tensions and gaining a better understanding of each country's position and intentions in the region," the DFA stated.

Earlier this month, Philippines Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin compared China's behaviour in the waterway to that of an "ugly oaf."

"How politely can I put it, China, my friend? Allow me to examine... O...EXIT THE ROOM, "Locsin used his personal account to tweet.

After the outburst, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte barred his ministers from discussing the South China Sea situation in public. Duterte prefers not to provoke Beijing and wants to tap it for loans and investment.

Additionally, the row over the June 2019 sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese fishing vessel that abandoned the Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea was discussed during Friday's dialogue. According to the DFA, the Philippine justice ministry will seek compensation for the victims.

Despite recent tensions, relations between the Philippines and China have improved under Duterte, who dismissed the 2016 South China Sea arbitration ruling in the Philippines' favour as a "piece of paper" he could discard.

However, the Philippines urged Beijing to respect international law, including the arbitral ruling, during the talks, according to the DFA.

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