Beijing hints it may stop activities in South China Sea if Manila drops arbitration


NAYPYIDAW — China would be willing to halt its activities in disputed areas in the South China Sea if the Philippines backs out of international arbitration it initiated last year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario proposed at a regional security summit here what he termed a “triple-action plan” in a bid to resolve territorial disputes and escalating tensions in the region.

Manila’s proposal calls for the imposition of a moratorium on all unilateral actions in disputed waters on an “immediate” basis; the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the early conclusion of a binding Code of Conduct on an “intermediate” basis; and ultimately, an arbitration process to settle disputes.

But Wang said Manila violated its proposal when it filed its case before the United Nations in January last year. China has declined to participate in the arbitration proceedings.

“If the Philippine side would like to carry out this plan, then it should revoke international arbitration in the first place, because that is the third step of its plan,” Yi told reporters following the ASEAN-China meeting, one of the many sessions in the three-day event which started Friday.

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