South China Sea News: US Supportive Of PH-China Bilateral Talks

South China Sea News: US Supportive Of PH-China Bilateral Talks
China Tug jimnjodys / Flickr CC

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday expressed support for the Philippines’ plan to hold bilateral talks with China over the South China Sea maritime dispute.


Kerry issued the statement during his recent visit to the Philippines this week to meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Speaking with local reporters, Kerry reiterated that the United States backs the Philippines’ decision to engage in bilateral talks with China over the highly contested maritime dispute.

Kerry, however, signaled that China should abide by international laws, even if it engages in bilateral talks with individual countries party to the dispute, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Also Read: US State Secretary John Kerry Arrives In The Philippines To Meet With Duterte

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“Our friend and ally, the Philippines, can only do so on terms that are acceptable to the government of the Philippines,” Kerry was quoted as saying by the WSJ.

On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued a ruling on the maritime dispute lodged by the Philippines against China in 2013. The ruling virtually declared China’s self-imposed nine-dash line rule as having no legal basis. But China, who has been vocal about its intention to ignore the court’s decision, said that the ruling is inconsistent with international laws.

Also Read: South China Sea: Taiwan Reasserts Island Claim After The Hague Proves To Be No Help

Meanwhile, Kerry’s recent trip to the Philippines was his first under the new administration. Kerry is also the first high-ranking U.S. official and cabinet member to pay visit to the Philippines’ new president, who won the May 9 elections.

But Duterte said that if he is to engage in bilateral talks with China, it would be based on the PCA’s July-12 decision. The decision, Duterte said, would be the foundation of any possible talks with the Chinese, the Manila-based Philippine Star reported.

“The President did mention that whatever talks we will engage in will begin with the ruling. That will be the foundation – the ruling regarding the area,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella was quoted as saying by the PhilStar.

Also Read: South China Sea July 12 Ruling: The Hague Favors Philippines

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