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China urges Philippines to withdraw arbitration case

Reporter: Roee Ruttenberg 丨 CCTV.com

06-09-2016 11:22 BJT

Full coverage: South China Sea Is Indisputable Part of China

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei has said the Philippines' unilateral initiation of an arbitration case that involves territorial claims in the South China Sea, meant it had closed the door on settling disputes through dialogue and negotiation. He has called for Manila to settle disputes through bilateral negotiations.

China says the Philippines is going against its own word. Namely, a previous deal -signed more than 20 years ago - which included a proposal for regular talks between the two countries to resolve maritime issues. Manila has instead taken its case to The Hague unilaterally initiating arbitration. Beijing says the action contradicts U-N conventions governing the Law of the Sea. 

On Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said its remains committed to talks.

"The door for the dialogue between China and the Philippines to resolve the South China Sea issue through dialogue and negotiation is always open. China remains committed to settling the relevant disputes with the Philippines through negotiation, on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said.

A ruling is still weeks ago, and Beijing has - for the most part - ignored the proceedings. 

The new Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet responded to Beijing's call. But has in the past made it clear that he would like to hold talks with China.

More than five trillion dollars in shipping trade passes through the South China Sea each year. A number of countries have claims to the waters, and also close military alliances with the U-S which has often angered China by conducting reconnaissance missions in the South China Sea and in the EAST China Sea. 

This week, American defense officials in the Pacific said one of their aircraft - an RC-135 - was on a routine patrol, in what the U-S calls international airspace over the East China Sea, when two Chinese jets approached, one of them travelling at QUOTE "an unsafe excessive rate of closure" on the American aircraft.

A spokesman for U-S Pacific Command says: this was likely a case of improper airmanship, noting that no other provocative maneuvers occurred. He also said the U-S Department of Defense would be addressing the issue with its Chinese counterpart through quote "appropriate diplomatic and military channels."

China has repeatedly warned the U-S against what it says are spying missions in the region. On Wednesday, Beijing demanded the activities be stopped.

"The root course of the issue is the frequent close reconnaissance over the Chinese waters and in China's airspace by U.S. military aircraft. That has seriously threatened the Chinese maritime and airspace security. China has the right to take defensive measures," Hong said.

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