Philippine elections

Work with Beijing on maritime spats, China urges new govt

A fisherman repairing his boat in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea on April 22.
A fisherman repairing his boat in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea on April 22. PHOTO: REUTERS

China has urged the new Philippine government under President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to work with Beijing in resolving the South China Sea territorial disputes, as Chinese state media struck a more optimistic note over bilateral ties.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that China has always placed high emphasis on its relations with the Philippines, which have met with serious difficulties in recent years over "causes which are known to all".

Sino-Filipino ties plummeted in 2012 after a standoff over a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, and dipped further after Manila filed a case in early 2013 at a United Nations tribunal over Beijing's sovereignty claims.

"We hope the new Philippine government will join us in bringing bilateral relations back to a path of healthy development by taking practical actions to manage differences," he said at a routine briefing yesterday.

In response to Mr Duterte's remarks that he would pursue multilateral talks involving the United States, Japan and Australia as well as claimant nations to resolve the sea spats, and that he is open to direct talks with Beijing, Mr Lu pointed out that Asean and China had agreed on a "dual-track" approach.

TOWARDS HEALTHY RELATIONS

We hope the new Philippine government will join us in bringing bilateral relations back to a path of healthy development by taking practical actions to manage differences.

CHINA'S FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN LU KANG, who said that China has always placed high emphasis on ties with the Philippines.

Under this approach, maritime disputes are resolved peacefully through negotiations between claimant states, while Beijing and the grouping work together to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Mr Lu added that before the territorial spats are resolved, all parties should pursue the joint development of maritime resources to achieve win-win outcomes.

The Global Times, a tabloid linked to the Communist Party, wrote in an editorial yesterday that Mr Duterte's huge vote margin reflects "strong dissatisfaction" with outgoing President Benigno Aquino's six-year rule and frustration with his "lopsided South China Sea strategy of siding completely with Washington".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Work with Beijing on maritime spats, China urges new govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe