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PBBM knows about Rody-Xi deal — China

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The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines on Thursday refuted President Marcos’ pronouncement that he was not aware of any gentleman’s agreement that was reached during the Duterte administration with Beijing.

In a statement, the embassy stressed that it even “repeatedly briefed” the Marcos administration about such an agreement, which had previously prevented the escalation of tensions between the two nations.

“In addition to the meetings of China-Philippines Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM), the Chinese side invited the Envoy of the President to China for Special Concerns of the Philippines to Beijing last September to discuss how to properly manage the situation at Ren’ai Jiao, which resulted in an internal understanding,” the embassy statement said.

The gentleman’s agreement that Duterte had with China was not to send more construction materials within the disputed waters to prevent tension from further escalating, according to his former spokesman, Harry Roque.

The embassy also said that in the early days of the Marcos administration, both sides even came up with a “new model” to manage the dispute after rounds of serious communications with the Philippine military.

“Regrettably, only one round of resupply mission was carried out within the realm of these understandings and arrangements before they were unilaterally abandoned by the Philippine side for no good reason,” it said.

However, the embassy did not provide details of the supposed “new model” despite repeated clarifications sought by reporters.

The embassy then urged the Philippines “to honor its commitments and consensus with China” and “show sincerity.”

Despite China’s aggression within the disputed waters, China’s embassy also told the government to stop the Philippines’ supposed provocations and “return to the right track of dialogue and consultation as soon as possible, and work with the Chinese side to properly manage the situation at Ren’ai Jiao, and safeguard the hard-won peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ decision to step-up relations with Japan and the United States was defended by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), saying it is a “sovereign choice.”

As a response to China’s criticism of the recent trilateral summit, the DFA also urged China to “reflect upon its own actions” in the South China Sea. “The source of tension in our region is well known to all,” the DFA said in a statement.

“It is China’s excessive maritime claims and aggressive behavior, including its militarization of reclaimed features, that are undermining regional peace and stability and raising tensions,” the department lamented.

In the recent trilateral summit, the three leaders expressed serious concerns about China’s “dangerous and aggressive behavior in the South China Sea”. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning earlier denounced the alleged formation of “exclusive circles in the region” and any “acts that stoke and drive up tensions.”

Mao also faulted the US for clinging to the “Cold War mentality” of threatening rivals by coalescing with regional allies.

“Unwarranted references to the Cold War sensationalize the situation and misrepresent the peaceful purpose of the trilateral cooperation,” the DFA said.

The DFA added that China’s aggressive behavior in the West Philippine Sea are damaging all efforts at regional peace and stability, and raising tensions in the disputed waters.

It stands to reason, too, the DFA said, that the trilateral summit discuss issues involving regional security, challenges to the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes.

“In the case of the South China Sea, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the final and legally-binding 2016 Arbitral Award provide definitive lawful basis for the determination of the sovereign rights and jurisdiction within the Philippines’ maritime entitlements,” the DFA statement stated.

The South China Sea stands as a conduit of more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce. China’s territorial claims in the region overlap with claims made by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled In 2016 that China’s claims had no legal basis, a decision Beijing has repeatedly rejected.

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