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Beijing and Hanoi agree to keep territorial disputes in check

17 May 2017

Spratlys is a group of more than a hundred islets in the South China Sea adjacent to the Philippines that was reportedly to be rich in oil and natural gas resources.

Ties between Manila and Beijing had strained under the administration of Mr. Duterte's predecessor, Benigno S.C. Aquino III, for challenging Beijing in a UN-backed tribunal that ruled against the Asian power's sweeping claims in the contested sea. He emphasised that the deal would have to be "fair and balanced".

Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei claim parts of the waterway, but China insists it has sovereign rights over nearly all of it.

China has so far dominated the South China Sea, building military bases on reefs, and constructing artificial islands in waters the Philippines claims as its own.

He has said his decision has earned the Philippines billions of dollars in Chinese investments and aid.

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At the sidelines of a Belt and Road summit in Beijing, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday met several Chinese state-owned corporations, including a defence contractor blacklisted by Washington for selling to Iran items that were banned under US laws.

On the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Lorenzana said the Philippines might procure defense equipment from China.

During his campaign, he promised to ride a jetski to a disputed island chain in the South China Sea to challenge Beijing's claim to the land.

Moreover, Hua said China and ASEAN senior officials will talk on China-ASEAN ties and cooperation within the East Asian region on May 19 in Guiyang.

"I think we should separate our dispute from the South China Sea from our relationship with the Chinese", Lorenzana added.

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He met separately with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang after attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

Mr Duterte praised China's leaders as "generous", "very liberal" and "sincere". "We are not saying that we will buy from them or we will not buy from them but if we need anything from the Chinese defence industry then we're going to procure using the loan that they are going to offer to us".

In a media briefing in Hong Kong on Saturday, Duterte was asked by a journalist whether the Philippines was in discussions with China about sending domestic workers there.

After what China said were "positive" talks on the South China Sea last week between President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, the joint statement stressed the need to control differences.

But the deal was terminated after its legality was questioned, while some officials claimed the Philippines was put at a disadvantage since most of the research site was within the country's exclusive economic zone.

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Beijing and Hanoi agree to keep territorial disputes in check