PH-China relationship remains good despite non-acknowledgment of arbitral ruling

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The Philippines will maintain its “friendly” ties with China even after Beijing once again rejected Manila’s position to recognize the Hague-based arbitral court’s 2016 decision on South China Sea disputes, Malacañang said.

At least for now, President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration would not force China to acknowledge the arbitral ruling to boost. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the existing friendship aims to strengthen the trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

“Isasantabi muna po natin ‘yung mga bagay na hindi mapagkasunduan, kasama na po itong territorial dispute na ito (We will temporarily set aside everything that [the Philippines and China] are in disagreement, including our territorial dispute),” Roque said.

However, he clarified that this does not mean the administration is abandoning the Philippines’ historic South China Sea arbitration victory against China.

“Hinding-hindi po natin gagawin iyan (We will never do that) because the ruling was to our favor,” he said.

On Sunday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. called on China to adhere to the sea ruling, saying the arbitration award in favor of the Philippines is “non-negotiable.”

Locsin’s call came on the same day the Philippines marked the fourth anniversary of its historic win against China’s sweeping claims to most features of the resource-rich South China Sea.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines’ petition when the court affirmed that China has no legal basis to assert its supposedly historic rights over nearly the entire South China Sea.

China rejected Locsin’s call on Monday, saying the decision favoring the Philippines is “illegal and invalid.”

The spokesman also emphasized that this disagreement is not a reflection of the relationship of our country with China.

“Itong disagreement nating ito ay hindi dahilan at hindi naman po ito ang suma total ng ating relasyon sa Tsina (This disagreement is no reason to sever ties with China. It is not the sum total of our relationship with China),” Roque added.

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