Beijing, Manila to hold consultation meeting on South China Sea ‘soon’

RFA and BenarNews staffs
Beijing, Manila to hold consultation meeting on South China Sea ‘soon’ Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo (left) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pose before the start of bilateral talks at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, July 6, 2022.
Jam Sta Rosa/Pool/AFP

The foreign ministers of China and the Philippines have agreed to hold a meeting under the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea as soon as possible, amid tensions between the two countries over several reefs in the contested waters.

Wang Yi, who also sits on the powerful Politburo of the Communist Party of China, and Filipino counterpart Enrique Manolo, during a phone call on Wednesday, discussed holding a meeting under the BCM, the Chinese foreign ministry said. 

The phone conversation was held “at the request of the Philippines,” it said.

“Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China-Philippines relations face serious difficulty and the root cause lies in the Philippines’ change of policy and position, refusing to honor its commitment and repeated provocations that undermine China’s legitimate and lawful rights and interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Thursday.

“We hope that the Philippines will decide rationally, follow the effective way for neighbors to get along with each other and work with China to properly handle and manage the situation at sea.”

During the phone call, “the two sides agreed to hold a meeting of the bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea issue at an early date,” China Daily, a state-run news outlet, quoted the ministry as saying.

In 2017, the consultation mechanism was established to promote bilateral discussion and cooperation between China and the Philippines. Seven meetings have taken place since then under the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM). The last one occurred in Manila in March.

In reporting about the call, Chinese state media asserted that Wang Yi said the Philippines had downgraded itself to a proxy of the United States. 

Tensions have been rising between Manila and Beijing over two atolls in the South China Sea – the Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal and Scarborough Shoal – which both countries claim.

In a statement on Thursday, Manalo said, “We had a frank and candid exchange and ended our call with a closer understanding of our respective positions on a number of issues.” The Philippine foreign minister did not elaborate.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said his nation expected to broaden multinational patrols in the South China Sea next year by adding more participants, a move that is expected to irk China.

The defense secretary said sea patrols would be held in 2024 with France, India, the U.K. and other countries that do not have agreements with the Philippines for such joint operations. 

Earlier this year, the Philippines launched bilateral patrols with the United States and Australia in the West Philippine Sea, Manila’s name for the parts of the South China Sea under its jurisdiction.


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