Philippines may hold two-way sea talks with China

Philippines considers two-way sea talks with China, if it wins its case with Beijing

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A Filipino soldier patrols at the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines on May 11, 2015.

The Philippines may consider two-way talks with China to resolve a territorial dispute in the South China Sea but only if it wins its case with Beijing at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague, Manila's foreign minister said on Friday.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan also claim the waterways where about $5 trillion of ship-borne goods passes annually.

The artificial island at the southern end of Mischief Reef showing a newly-built seawall on its north side in this Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative on January 8, 2016. (Reuters)

China refuses to recognise the case lodged by the Philippines with the tribunal and says all disputes should be resolved through bilateral talks.

Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario, who has resigned effective next month due to health reasons, said the court may hand down a ruling before May.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario poses for a picture before the start of an interview at the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Manila on September 4, 2013. (Reuters)

"A bilateral approach per se is good," del Rosario said in a television interview, three years after Manila filed the case in The Hague, rejecting Beijing's offer of two-way talks.

"When the conclusion of the arbitration is handed down, and if it is in our favor, I think we should initiate a bilateral because we already have a platform by which we can solidly approach the negotiating table. If it's not in our favor, they will approach us."

TRTWorld, Reuters