BEIJING – China and the Philippines began on Friday the first round of bilateral talks over disputed areas in the South China Sea, a process which was agreed upon during the Philippine president’s Beijing visit in October last year.
The dialogue will be a mechanism to promote mutual confidence and practical cooperation between the countries, said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, in Beijing.
She added that the talks are aimed at creating favorable conditions for a final solution to the dispute.
Xi Jinping and Rodrigo Duterte agreed on resuming the dialogue during the latter’s official China visit in October, after the Permanent Court of Arbitration of The Hague had ruled in favor of Manila in July 2016, in a case over several disputed territories in the South China Sea.
The proceedings had been launched by the previous Philippine government, but Duterte chose to put aside the decision and resume talks with Beijing.
The meeting took place in the southern Chinese city of Guiyang, on the sidelines of another meeting between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in which a draft on the South China Sea code of conduct was approved.
The ASEAN had pledged in April to finalize the code of conduct to diffuse tensions in the South China Sea.
Four ASEAN members, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, along with Taiwan and China, contest the sovereignty of several islands of this strategic maritime space, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety.
In recent years, China has built facilities on artificial islands that could be of military use, generating concern in neighboring countries and the United States.