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PH, China set bilateral talks

By: GK

The Philippines and China have agreed to hold the next round of the dialogue to manage the dispute in the South China Sea (SCS) and explore areas of cooperation in the second half of the year.

The bilateral consultation mechanism demonstrates the improved ties between the two countries, a year after an international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines’ maritime arbitration case, according to Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.

“A year after the ruling of the PCA at The Hague, the Philippines and China are now in dialogue,” Abella said in a Palace press briefing. “They have agreed that the next meeting should be in the second half of 2017.”

The second BCM meeting may include topics such as the fishing rights of Filipinos in the disputed territory.

“We have the second meeting coming up within the bilateral, the bilateral meets and I’m sure items like that will be considered,” Abella said, when asked about the difficulties of some fishermen to venture in the contested waters due to possible harassment by China patrols.

The first BCM meeting, held in China last May, was attended by representatives from both foreign ministries and relevant maritime affairs agencies. They agreed to meet alternately in China and the Philippines once every six months.

In the first BCM meeting, Abella said the two countries reiterated commitment “to cooperate and to find ways to strengthen the trust and confidence on issues related to the West Philippine Sea.”

He said the Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue as well as exchanged views on current issues of concern to either side.