SHANGHAI • China is ready to start negotiations with the Philippines on South China Sea-related issues if Manila ignores an arbitration ruling expected next week on their long- running territorial dispute, the official China Daily reported.
The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague and a ruling is expected next Tuesday. The Philippines is contesting China's claims to most of the South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion (S$6.7 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes every year.
China has said that it plans to ignore the PCA's ruling, which would represent a snub to the international legal order. Besides the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims with China in the area.
Beijing has rejected the arbitration case, claiming that the court has no jurisdiction and saying it wants to solve the issue bilaterally.
In recent weeks, it has ramped up its propaganda campaign, downplaying the outcome of the case.
Negotiations between China and the Philippines could cover "issues such as joint development and cooperation in scientific research if the new government puts the tribunal's ruling aside before returning to the table for talks", the English-language China Daily reported yesterday. The newspaper did not name its sources but said they were "close to the issues between the two countries".
Negotiations between China and the Philippines could cover "issues such as joint development and cooperation in scientific research if the new government puts the tribunal's ruling aside before returning to the table for talks", the English-language China Daily reported yesterday.
"Manila must put aside the result of the arbitration in a substantive approach," it quoted one source as saying.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry last month said the two countries had agreed in 1995 to settle disputes in the South China Sea "in a peaceful and friendly manner through consultations on the basis of equity and mutual respect".
In the arbitration case, the Philippines is contesting China's claim to an area shown on its maps as a nine-dash line stretching deep into the maritime heart of South-east Asia, covering hundreds of disputed islands and reefs.
Japan, meanwhile, is coordinating with other Group of Seven (G-7) nations to issue a joint statement that will demand that China respect the upcoming international ruling, according to sources.
Regardless of the court's decision, G-7 countries plan to ask China to act based on international law by demonstrating the importance of settling disputes through legal means, the sources said. Though some countries have taken a cautious stance about issuing the statement, Japan has been working with them to reach a common view on the issue.
REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST