December 21, 2023
MANILA – China is not keen to sever diplomatic ties with the Philippines, despite maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), asserting that these conflicts “do not represent the entirety” of the two countries’ bilateral relationship.
Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated this as President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. observed that Manila’s traditional diplomacy methods with Beijing had yielded “very little progress” in resolving incidents in the western section of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“[Maritime] disputes do not represent the entirety of China-Philippines relations. We stand ready to properly handle disputes through dialogue and consultation with the Philippines and will not close our door of dialogue and contact with the Philippines,” Wang said during a press conference Wednesday.
“We hope that the Philippines will make the right choice, seriously honor its commitment to properly handling disputes through dialogue and consultation, and work with China to pursue the healthy and steady growth of bilateral ties and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region,” he added.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including the WPS, indicated by its now ten-dash line, which was previously a nine-dash line.
In 2013, the Philippines challenged China’s nine-dash line before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. A 2016 ruling by an international tribunal largely dismissed Beijing’s broad claims, favoring Manila. However, China continues to reject this ruling.
The China Coast Guard has used water cannons, dangerous maneuvers, and even ramming against Philippine vessels within the nation’s EEZ, actions Beijing justifies as responses to “deliberate infringement” and “provocations” by the Philippines.
“The responsibility lies with the Philippines,” Wang said.