Philippines Takes Diplomatic Route After Clash With China

(Bloomberg) -- The Philippines has sent a diplomatic note to China and is eyeing a dialogue with Beijing soon following last week’s clash in the South China Sea, according to Manila’s foreign affairs chief.

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“No country can claim almost the entirety of South China Sea as its territory,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said at a forum on Wednesday. He later told reporters that the Philippine government has sent a note verbale to China.

Manalo said that a dialogue with China may happen soon via a bilateral consultation mechanism on the maritime dispute established between the two nations earlier.

Asked whether the Philippines is seeking to de-escalate tensions with China over the contested waters, he said: “We’re committed to peace and stability and we’ll do whatever we can to promote that without sacrificing our sovereign rights and sovereignty.”

Manalo made the comments after the June 17 encounter between Chinese and Philippine vessels in the disputed waters which Manila claimed was a “deliberate act” by Beijing and led to a Filipino soldier losing a finger. China has maintained that its actions were lawful.

“We are urging the PRC to cease harassment of Philippine vessels lawfully operating in the Philippine exclusive economic zone,” US Ambassador to Manila MaryKay Carlson said in the same event, referring to China.

China should halt its disruption of countries’ sovereign rights “to explore, utilize, conserve and manage natural resources” in their own exclusive economic zones, she added.

Manila has demanded reparations from Beijing after it said Chinese coast guard crew carried bladed weapons, seized guns and rammed Philippine vessels during the June 17 encounter.

(Updates with details throughout.)

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