Amid calls for China to comply with the July 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the South China Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. has met virtually with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and engaged in “open, cordial, and fruitful discussions.”
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the meeting between Locsin and Yi took place on Tuesday “at the latter’s request.”
The meeting came at a time when the Philippines and the world commemorates the 4thanniversary of the landmark and historic ruling rendered by the arbitral tribunal in The Hague favoring the Philippine petition declaring China’s “nine-dashed-line” claim illegal.
“Both sides reaffirmed that contentious maritime issues are not the sum total of the Philippines-China bilateral relationship,” the DFA said in a statement.
A far cry from last Sunday’s strong statement issued by Locsin calling the arbitral award “non-negotiable,” yesterday’s meeting ended with purely rhetoric and diplomatic niceties as shown in the official statements from both sides.
“With mutual respect, sincerity, and adherence to sovereign equality, both sides will continue to manage issues of concern and promote maritime cooperation in friendly consultation. Both sides agree to strengthen Philippines-China comprehensive strategic cooperation,” the DFA said.
In the virtual meeting, Locsin reiterated the importance of continued dialogue to propel Philippines-China cooperation forward across various fronts, under the “new normal” brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The two Foreign Ministers recognized that Philippines-China bilateral relations have achieved a positive turn around and a sound momentum of development through the joint efforts and mutual trust of both sides,” the DFA added.
The China state-owned media CGTN quoted Locsin as hailing China’s help to the Philippines in combatting the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic and for sending medical teams and supplies to curb its spread.