Philippines and China agree to hold talks
(7 November 2016)
A visit by the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, to Beijing has resulted in a formal agreement to pursue bilateral talks on the South China Sea/West Philippines Sea dispute.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister, Liu Zhenmin, stated, “The two Presidents agreed that China and the Philippines will return to the track of dialogue and consultation to properly handle the South China Sea issue.” Liu went on to say that this “signifies a new stage in the maritime cooperation between the two countries,” adding that “China is ready for discussions with friends in the Philippines on maritime cooperation and cooperation in many other areas.”
In addition, China has begun to allow Philippine fishermen to operate around the disputed Scarborough Shoal. By changing this policy through unwritten agreement, the two countries were able to signal an improvement of relations while steering clear of either China renouncing its claim over the shoal or the Philippines conceding China’s authority.
The two countries also avoided making any reference to the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s recent ruling which nullified China’s claim to the West Philippine Sea and which China refuses to recognise.