- The Philippines and China will start holding bilateral talks on West Philippines Sea this week
- This was revealed by Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Jose Santiago Santa Romana on Saturday
- The talks will be held in China where President Rodrigo Duterte is currently visiting for Beijing’s ambitious Silk Road Plan
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and China will start bilateral talks on the disputed West Philippine Sea this week, Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Jose Santiago Santa Romana told reporters on Saturday, May 13.
The bilateral consultations on the region’s flashpoint will take place in China where President Rodrigo Duterte is currently visiting for the ambitious One Belt, One Road summit. Santa Romana has likewise acknowledged that the current territorial dispute between the two countries “cannot be resolved overnight”.
“We will inaugurate the bilateral consultative mechanism on issues of particular concern to each side. This is where the sensitive issues will be discussed,” the envoy told ABS-CBN News in an interview.
China has been at odds with the Philippines and Vietnam over stretching and overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea. It has been widely criticized by the United States and its allies for its island-building spree and construction of facilities out of fear that the giant communist nation is planning to militarize the region.
The ambassador revealed the first session on the bilateral talks will be held next week and will continue on a twice-yearly basis which is expected to give both parties the chance to “exchange views on the South China Sea issue”.
“There is a whole sphere of relationships you can fast-track without giving up your sovereignty claim. To put it on a separate track is not to abandon or give up but rather to compartmentalize it,” said Santa Romana.