THE Government of China welcomed Manila’s decision not to discuss the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in the disputed South China Sea at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings that will be chaired by the Philippines.
“This issue has never been and will not be an issue between China and ASEAN. The Chinese side welcomes the aforementioned remarks by the Philippines who serves as this year’s rotating chair of ASEAN,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in his daily press briefing in Beijing.
Lu explained the issue of the South China Sea is only an issue between China and some countries of the ASEAN and it would not be appropriate to discuss the issue with the whole ASEAN members.
He assured “the Chinese side will stay committed to peacefully resolving disputes over the South China Sea with countries directly concerned through negotiation and consultation, and safeguarding peace and stability of the region with ASEAN countries.”
“ASEAN celebrates its 50th birthday this year. Setting great store by the important role played by ASEAN in regional affairs, the Chinese side will enhance communication with the Philippines, support the Philippine government in doing a good job as ASEAN rotating chair, and work with ASEAN countries to pursue cooperation in development, and properly address sensitive issues, so as to push for new progress in China-ASEAN relations and East Asia cooperation,” Lu stressed.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., in a press conference yesterday said ASEAN may raise their concerns about the militarization in the disputed territory in the SCS but these should be made separately from the ruling made by the PCA.
However, Yasay said “if any country would like to pursue claims, they can do so and perhaps use the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal as a precedent, they can do so.”
Yasay also made it clear the Philippines will not hesitate to take appropriate actions should China continue with its construction in the disputed territory in the SCS.
He said China has assured the Philippines that there will be no construction or militarization of Panatag Shoal.
The Philippines will be hosting this year’s ASEAN Summit and other related meetings, where ASEAN will be highlighted as a model of regionalism and a global player with the interests of its peoples at its core.