MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines urged China on Tuesday, August 30, to heed an arbitral tribunal’s historic ruling on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), or risk being “losers at the end of the day.”
“We are trying to make China understand, especially when the dust settles, that unless they respect and recognize the arbitral tribunal, they will be the losers at the end of the day on this matter,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr said in a congressional budget hearing on Tuesday.
“I do not think it is quite correct to say that China has won,” Yasay added. “We have won. This is a great and resounding victory for the Philippines.”
Yasay made this statement as the Philippines eyes bilateral or one-on-one talks with China on the West Philippine Sea dispute.
The Philippines’ top diplomat said on Tuesday: “When we start formal negotiations or bilateral engagements with China, we will have to do it within the context of the arbitral tribunal decision. There are no buts or ifs insofar as our policy on this matter is concerned.”
“We will not engage China if they will impose as a condition that we will only have bilaterals outside the framework of the arbitral tribunal's decision,” he added.
China ‘practically alone’
Before holding formal negotiations with China, however, the Philippines for a “provisional arrangement… particularly in Scarborough Shoal, for our fishermen to use this area as their traditional fishing ground.”
On this provisional arrangement, Yasay said, “This is what we would like to be as some kind of a baseline before we really even open formal engagements with China.
He added: “We are also getting the pressure on the part of the international community to urge China to precisely respect and recognize the decision of the arbitral tribunal. This pressure on the part of the international community is building up.”
“As you can see, China is practically alone,” Yasay said.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself on Monday, August 29, urged China to consider the plight of Filipino fishermen as Manila and Beijing try to mend their sea dispute.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, for his part, said in an interview with reporters, “We cannot accept the arbitration award but we do look forward to talk to the Philippines bilaterally of the troubles we have.” – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.