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Philippines refuses bilateral talks with China following South China Sea ruling

Manila has said it declined talks with China on the condition they not discuss a recent ruling over territorial claims. Tensions have flared over the contested South China Sea.

The Philippines’ foreign minister said on Tuesday he had refused an offer from Beijing to hold bilateral talks regarding the countries’ dispute over the South China Sea, saying China wanted to disregard a recent court ruling over the matter.

“[China’s foreign minister] had asked us to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside, or [in] disregard of, the arbitral ruling,” said Perfecto Yasay in a television interview, according to Reuters news agency.

“This is something I told him was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest,” he said.

China bristles at court ruling

Last week, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), in The Hague, ruled that China had violated international law in claiming control over the South China Sea. It said the country had no historic rights within the so-called “nine-mile dash” and had interfered with the Philippines’ right to fish in the Scarborough Shoal.

The Philippines foreign Minister, Perfecto Yasay

China uses the nine-dash-line to demarcate the territory in the South China Sea it claims as its own. At the center of Beijing and Manila’s dispute is the Spratly archipelago, which covers an area of about 420,000 square km.

The Philippine government welcomed the court’s ruling, and other countries in the region, such as Japan, called on China to respect it. Beijing, however, has dismissed it, saying the court was “malicious” in its ruling.

Verdict on South China Sea

Europe calls on China to cooperate

At the biannual Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Mongolia, countries in both regionsmade veiled calls for Beijing to respect other nations’ territorial integrity. China had asked the leaders not to discuss the ruling, but the matter was frequently addressed.

“Dialogue and a strong commitment to the rules-based international order are necessary,” said European Council President Donald Tusk during the opening ceremony.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a sideline meeting at the summit, where he urged Beijing to back off from its aggressive stance. Li, however, was not having it, telling Japan to “stop hyping up and interfering” in the South China Sea dispute.

blc/jr (Reuters, AP)

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