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PH to jump-start dialogue with China on South China Sea

Updated
By Genalyn Kabiling
BEIJING – It will be a long journey to resolve the South China Sea dispute, but the Philippines is ready to jump-start a dialogue with China to further ease the tension and prevent another standoff.

MB FILE—Photographed through the window of a closed aircraft, an aerial view shows Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines on July 20, 2011. (EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL / MANILA BULLETIN)

Photographed through the window of a closed aircraft, an aerial view shows Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines. (Credits: EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA/POOL / MANILA BULLETIN file photo)

Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana said the government will engage in a “frank and friendly” dialogue with China via the bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) to manage the dispute and promote mutual trust and understanding.

The first meeting of the Philippines-China BCM on the South China Sea issue will be held on Friday, May 19 on the sidelines of a regional summit in Guiyang City, China.

“The President’s directive is to find a peaceful and diplomatic approach to resolve the issue towards preserving peace and stability, to further improve bilateral relations and to avoid confrontation, avoid violence,” Sta. Romana said in a media interview at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing.

Sta. Romana however said the public should not expect a final settlement of the South China Sea dispute instantly at the first session of the BCM.

“This is a significant step in what would be a long journey but the point is at least we can now sit down and talk,” he said. He noted that it was important to understand each other’s views as a beginning of resolving the dispute.

“Please don’t expect the dispute to be resolved overnight. The problem did not arise in one night, one day and it cannot be resolved in one night,” he added.

Sta. Romana will lead the Philippine delegation for the inaugural session of the bilateral consultation mechanism between the two countries on May 19 in southwest China. Representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs will also join the team.

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