Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said Thursday that he had a “frank and candid” exchange with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi over the phone on Wednesday amid growing tensions in the South China Sea.
“We had a frank and candid exchange and ended our call with a clearer understanding of our respective positions on a number of issues,” Manalo said in a statement.
“We both noted the importance of dialogue in addressing these issues,” he added.
The statement comes as China warned that if the Philippines is bent on having its own way or colludes with “ill-intentioned” external forces, China would defend its rights and respond resolutely.
Wang, however, also said that both countries should discuss any disputes as neighbors, with the most urgent task being to manage the current maritime situation.
The Philippines recently filed new diplomatic protests against China following its recent aggressions at Scarborough Shoal and Ayungin Shoal in the South China Sea.
Among the reported harassments are water cannon attacks and the ramming of Philippine vessels in areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Wednesday, meanwhile, said no country is supportive of China’s claim.
“No country in the world, none, supports unequivocally their claim to the whole of the South China Sea,” Teodoro said in an interview.
He also previously said that the Philippines and the international community should pressure China into behaving responsibly amid tensions in the disputed waters.
“We can have several approaches to this. The first and foremost is to really show the world and to pressure China into behaving as a responsible citizen of the world in this area,” Teodoro said.
Earlier this week, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said the Philippines needs to change its strategy in countering Chinese aggression in the South China Sea because diplomatic efforts are making “very little progress.”
“We have to do something that we have not done before. We have to come up with a new concept, a new principle, a new idea so that we move, as I say, we move the needle the other way. Let’s move the needle back, so that paradigm shift is something that we have to formulate,” said Marcos said on Tuesday.
Wang, meanwhile, said that “serious difficulties” in bilateral ties were due to Philippines’ changing its policy stance and reneging on its commitments, and advised the Philippine side to “return to the right path” as soon as possible.
In addition to the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping claims with China in parts of the South China Sea. —VAL, GMA Integrated News
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