Perfecto Yasay says government rejected an offer of talks "outside, and [in] contempt" of the International Court verdict. A proposal, he adds, that "is not in line" with "our national interests". The Philippines priority is to negotiate the return of fishermen to Scarborough Shoal. Beijing wants to continue its expansionist policy in the area.
Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay says that Manila has rejected an offer of talks proposed by China "outside, and [in] contempt" of the verdict of the Hague Court.
The Chinese government had asked the Philippines to "ignore" the Permanent Court of Arbitration (CPA) ruling on the Law of the Sea, that Beijing "has no sovereignty" rights over the disputed territories in the South China Sea.
The judgment delivered on 12 July, is not binding, and Beijing has already announced it has no intention of complying because it came from a "failed court". The verdict was, however, welcomed by the Philippines which first promoted arbitration in January 2013.
"[The Chinese Foreign Ministry] asked us to open bilateral negotiations - said Yasay - but outside, [or] in utter disregard of international arbitration." All this, he adds, "is not in line with the dictates of our Constitution and our national interest".
After hearing Manila, he concludes, Beijing pointed out that a "clash" between the two countries is inevitable.
China has refused to comment on the Philippine Minister’s statements. However, on the sidelines of a meeting with the United States on the issue of maritime security, the Beijing government has remained defiant on the issue.
According to reports from Xinhua, the official news agency, a Chinese military official has already said that Beijing "will never stop construction" on the Nansha Islands.
Meanwhile, Manila’s priority is to negotiate the right of Filipino fishermen to return to fish in the waters of the disputed Scarborough Shoal. The application of other provisions of the judgment will have to be considered over time.
The long-running dispute over the region's seas has been dragging on for years. It first began when Beijing claimed a large chunk of ocean including the Spratly and Paracel islands which are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia.
Despite this, China has begun construction of a series of artificial islands with military bases, lighthouses and has also torpedoed several Vietnamese and Filipino fishing boats, provoking a continuous rise in tension.