China to join hands with PH to 'properly handle' South China Sea issue; vows no bullying --foreign minister

China will join hands with the Philippines to "properly handle" the dispute over the South China Sea, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi said on Monday, Jan. 17, stressing that his country "will not use its strength to bully smaller countries."

State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi (Photo courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines)

Speaking at the Manila Forum for China-Philippines Relations, Wang expressed hopes that the two countries will find ways to properly manage and resolve the issue and do away with stressing "only one side's claims and imposing one's own will."

"China will join hands with the Philippines to properly handle the South China Sea issue. We each have a respective claims and positions. Before an agreement can be reached, it is important that we put the issue in a proper place and prevent it from affecting or even taking hostage the overall bilateral relationship," Wang said.

"Stressing only one side’s claims and imposing one’s own will on the other is not a proper way for neighbors to treat each other, and it also goes against the Oriental philosophy of how people should get along with each other," Wang added.

The foreign minister also stressed that "China will absolutely not use its strength to bully smaller countries," saying, they "never believe in a winner-takes-all approach."

He added that two nations will be able to find ways to properly manage and resolve the issue in the spirit of goodwill and pragmatism.

"We need to come up with the resolve as soon as possible to advance joint development without prejudice to either side’s rights and claims, so that we can turn the South China Sea issue from a challenge into an opportunity and a positive factor conducive to the development of the Philippines and the friendship between our two peoples," Wang said.

Wang also assured the Philippines that China will join hands with the country in maintaining peace and stability in the region amid "repeated provocations" from outside forces.

"East Asia, the shared home for China and the Philippines, is the region with the greatest development potential in the world. This has not come by easily, and should be doubly cherished. However, some forces outside the region are trying to frustrate this good momentum with repeated provocations," Wang said.

He emphasized that China and the Philippines as "two important members of the region" should stay committed to an independent foreign policy, uphold the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, deepen the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership, and contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region.

During the forum, Wang also announced that China will provide an additional P800-million grant to the Philippines to help in its reconstruction efforts in areas hit by typhoon Odette last year.

READ MORE: China to provide additional P800-M grant to PH for rebuilding of homes in Odette-hit areas