Philippines Denies ‘New Model’ in Dealing with China on Sea Row

(Bloomberg) -- Two senior Philippine officials on Sunday denied a claim by China that Manila had agreed on a “new model” in handling their territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

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Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano issued separate statements, with Teodoro branding the claim “devious machination” and Ano calling it “absolutely absurd, ludicrous, and preposterous.”

A spokesperson by the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Saturday said the Philippine military’s Western Command, which oversees the South China Sea, early this year agreed on a new model to manage the situation in the Second Thomas Shoal. That’s where tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent months.

Read more: Why China, Philippines Keep Clashing at Sea and What Comes Next

Details of the new model have not been released, but the Chinese Embassy said the Western Command made “repeated confirmation” that it had been approved by “all key officials in the Philippine chain of command,” including the national defense secretary and the national security adviser.

Teodoro said he had “disallowed any contact” between his department and the Chinese Embassy following his meeting with Ambassador Huang Xilian in July. Ano said neither he nor any concerned officials have “consented nor committed to any proposal that will compromise the national interest.”

The Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the remarks of the Philippine officials outside of usual business hours.

China’s statement on the new model came after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration disowned a similar pact dubbed “gentleman’s agreement,” which China said was reached during former President Rodrigo Duterte’s tenure.

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