China's position on South China Sea 'unchangeable'
Iran Press TV
Fri Aug 30, 2019 04:41PM
Chinese President Xi Jinping has told President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines that Beijing's position on the South China Sea is unchangeable.
China claims sovereignty over nearly the entire strategic South China Sea. The Philippines, and a handful of other nations, also lay competing claims to parts of the body of water. Manila previously took the dispute to an international tribunal, which ruled in its favor. Beijing rejected that verdict on the grounds that the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to rule on the matter.
A spokesman for Duterte said on Friday that President Xi had reiterated his government's position of not recognizing the ruling "as well as not budging from its position" during his meeting with the Philippine president in Beijing on Thursday evening.
The spokesman said that the two leaders had agreed to work together to "manage" the issue and acknowledged "the importance of self-restraint and respect for freedom of navigation in – and overflight above – the South China Sea."
China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Xi had also said the two countries should "put aside disputes, eliminate external interference" over the South China Sea, and "make greater strides in the joint development of offshore oil and gas" in the region.
During Duterte's visit to China, the two countries also inked a number of pacts for joint cooperation in various fields, and the Philippines' president praised the "friendship and the value of our ties."
The resource-rich South China Sea has also been a source of tension between Beijing and Washington, which regularly dispatches its warships and warplanes to the waters as part of what it describes as "freedom of navigation" patrols.
The US has been taking sides with China's rival claimants in the South China Sea dispute.
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