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China offers talks if PH ignores arbitration ruling

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China is ready to start negotiations with the Philippines on South China Sea-related issues if Manila ignores an arbitration ruling expected next week on their long-running territorial dispute, the official China Daily reported on Monday.

The Philippines brought the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and a ruling is expected on July 12. The case contests China’s claims to the bulk of the South China Sea, a body of water through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.

China has said it plans to ignore the Court’s ruling which would represent a snub of the international legal order.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims with China in the area. Beijing has rejected the arbitration case, claiming the court has no jurisdiction and saying it wants to solve the issue bilaterally. In recent weeks it has ramped up its propaganda campaign downplaying the outcome of the case.

Negotiations between China and the Philippines could cover “issues such as joint development and cooperation in scientific research if the new government puts the tribunal’s ruling aside before returning to the table for talks”, the China Daily said.

China’s main, government-run English newspaper did not name its sources but identified them as “close to the issues between the two countries.”

“Manila must put aside the result of the arbitration in a substantive approach,” it quoted one source as saying.

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