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DFA sets the record straight: "PH in no way ignored China's proposals"
DFA sets the record straight: "PH in no way ignored China's proposals"
Nation
DFA sets the record straight: "PH in no way ignored China's proposals"
by Karen Ow-Yong12 March 2024
Photo courtesy of DFA.

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) expressed concern and surprise by China’s disclosure of sensitive details in its bilateral discussions, after it said that the Philippines “ignored” China’s proposals in relation to the sea row in the South China Sea.

In a statement by the DFA, as a reaction to the headline article in The Manila Times titled “Chinese Official: PH ignored China’s proposal on sea row”, published on March 11, 2024, it wishes to underscore that the Philippines is approaching these confidential negotiations with “utmost sincerity and good faith,” expressing their surprise by China’s disclosure of sensitive and confidential details regarding such issues.

The DFA stated that it wishes to “set the record straight” and insists that “in no way did the Philippine Government ignore China’s proposals”.

The DFA also confirms that it had received a number of concept papers from China on various maritime-related proposals last year and that the Philippine Government has immediately undertaken serious study and consideration of the proposals.

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“The DFA had lengthy and in-depth consultations with the various concerned Philippine Government agencies which have primary competence, or functional mandate over the topics and issues in the said Chinese concept papers,” the DFA said.

Several rounds of internal discussions and deliberations were also undertaken within the DFA to consider the Chinese proposals, it added.

The DFA admits that a few proposals were “deemed somewhat workable”, with many of the remaining Chinese proposals determined by the Government, after careful study, scrutiny and deliberation, to be “contrary to our national interests”.

According to the DFA, this is primarily based on considerations such as mutual interests, but should also “not undermine the Philippine Constitution or denigrate the legally-settled rights of the Philippines under international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award.”

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In response, the DFA said that the Philippine Government submitted counter-proposals last year, which were products of extensive internal consultations, but received counter-proposals from the Chinese side, which did not reflect the interest of the country, particularly on issues about the South China Sea.

Such matters were earlier discussed during the 8th Bilateral Consultation Meeting on the South China Sea (BCM) which was convened in Shanghai last 17 January 2024, and which was both agreed upon between the Philippines and China.

The DFA also mentioned that the proposal raised by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong in March 2023 referred to a so-called “gentleman’s agreement” wherein China insisted on actions that would be deemed as acquiescence or recognition of China’s control and administration over the Ayungin Shoal as China’s territory.

The DFA reiterated that as Ayungin Shoal is a part of the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, the proposal of China could not be considered by the Philippines without violating the Philippine constitution or international law.

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