China urges Philippines to contain tensions in South China Sea

China urges Philippines to contain tensions in South China Sea

China, Philippines should work together to find effective way to contain tensions in region, says Chinese foreign minister

By Emre Aytekin

BEIJING (AA) - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday called for joint control of the situation in the region, following the tension caused by the spraying of a Philippine ship on a reef near the Spratly Islands last week.

Wang made assessments about the situation in the South China Sea with his counterparts during his visits to Singapore and Malaysia, Beijing-based Xinhua News reported.

China and the Philippines should work together to find an effective way to contain tensions in the region, Wang said.

Noting that China has expressed its desire to resolve differences with the Philippines through dialogue many times before, he said they hope the Philippine side will stick to the consensus and the mutual trust created by the development in bilateral relations.

Bilateral relations between Beijing and Manila have spiraled down, primarily because of disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea. The latest incident of firing water cannon by the Chinese Coast Guard at the Philippine vessels triggered a sharp reaction from Manila.

Beijing justified the action and asked the Philippines to remove its warship from disputed islets. Manila has rejected such a demand.

Manila under Ferdinand Marcos Jr. since last year has been leaning toward the US, making more military bases accessible to American troops.

The territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea remain highly contested despite repeated calls for a negotiated settlement and avoiding breaches of sovereignty.

In 2016, however, China was dealt a blow when the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), an international tribunal based in The Hague, the Netherlands, ruled that its nine-dash line claim has no legal basis under international law.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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