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Manila ignores China's maritime proposal

By ZHANG YUNBI and ZHOU WA | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-21 03:53

Manila has not yet replied to Beijing's 3-year-old proposal to create a regular consultation mechanism on maritime issues, a Chinese land and maritime boundaries policy official said on Wednesday.

Observers said the latest "political drama" involving a request by the Philippines for international arbitration in the South China Sea border issue will further complicate the regional situation and hinder a peaceful solution.

Ouyang Yujing, deputy director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's department of boundary and ocean affairs, said on Wednesday during an online interview that bilateral negotiations are still the way to achieve a resolution.

In March 2010, China officially proposed creating a regular consultation mechanism for Sino-Philippine maritime issues, and Beijing has urged Manila several times to reopen another mechanism that involves trust-building measures, Ouyang said.

"However, the Philippine side has not made any reply. China hopes the Philippines will return to the right track of resolving disputes through bilateral negotiations," Ouyang said.

The policymaker's remark came with the latest released details about China's opposition to the Philippines' move on Jan 22 to take the South China Sea issue to an arbitral tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Manila's arbitration bid is more like "seeking international attention" and disregarding Beijing's proposed dialogue mechanisms.

"A resolution of disputes cannot be achieved without collaboration from the contending party, and internationalizing and aggravating the issue will increase the difficulty of solving the issue," Li warned.

Sino-Philippine ties were strained in April after a Philippine warship first prompted a serious impasse in the waters off China's Huangyan Island in the South China Sea.

Zhang Xinjun, an expert on international law at the School of Law at Tsinghua University, said China, in keeping with article 298 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, declared in writing it did not accept procedures such as arbitration regarding disputes on sea boundaries, and the Philippines has not responded to China's calls for negotiations on these issues.

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