Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Philippines, China to discuss relations amid territorial row

Since the escalation of tension between the Philippines and China in April owing to territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea, Manila and Beijing are set to meet Friday to "review existing cooperation and chart future direction of Philippines-China diplomatic relations."

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the 18th Foreign Ministry Consultations (FMC) between the Philippines and China would be held in Manila on October 19. The 17th FMC was held in Beijing in January.

The Philippine panel will be headed by DFA undersecretary for Policy Erlinda F. Basilio while Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying will head the Chinese side.

The Chinese delegation to the FMC will call on Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario.

"The FMC is a regular bilateral mechanism meant to be a venue for the two countries to discuss bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual concern, as well as to explore and deepen areas of cooperation in various fields, such as trade and investment, tourism, culture and education, defense and security, agriculture and fisheries, transportation and communication, and consular matters," the DFA said.

The tension between Manila and Beijing over Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) began in April when Philippine Navy personnel boarded eight Chinese fishing vessels who were allegedly caught poaching giant clams, baby sharks and other species in the area. However, the arrest of Chinese fishermen was blocked by Chinese government vessels.

Citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas, the Philippines is claiming the territory, saying the area is within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Beijing, on the other hand, claims the territory, citing historical basis.-Black Pearl (October 17, 2012 1:30PM)

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