Robredo: PH to only cooperate with China in areas with no conflicts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 14) — If elected president, Vice President Leni Robredo said the country will explore trade and investment talks with China only in areas where it has no dispute with the East Asian giant.

"For China, we will collaborate with them in areas that we have no conflicts, such as trade and investments, much like what Vietnam has been doing," she said during the Rotary Club of Manila membership meeting on Thursday.

In the case of the West Philippine Sea, Robredo said she will only entertain discussions with Beijing once it recognizes Manila's victory at The Hague.

"But when it comes to the West Philippine Sea, we cannot deal with them without their recognition of the arbitral ruling," Robredo said.

"For example, we only agree to joint exploration with them if there is recognition of our rights as declared by the arbitral tribunal," she added.

On July 12, 2016, an arbitral tribunal in The Hague favored the Philippines against China's claims to virtually all of the South China Sea.

READ: PH wins maritime arbitration case vs. China

Earlier this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs fired off a number of diplomatic protests amid the incursion of over 200 Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

Likewise, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued strongly-worded statements calling for the removal of Chinese vessels, further urging China to stop its aggressive actions that "disturb" peace in the region.

President Rodrigo Duterte in May said the arbitral win was "just" a piece of paper. But late last month, the executive said the noncompliance from the side of China cannot diminish the worth of the arbitral award.

RELATED: SWS: 47% of adult Filipinos believe govt. 'not doing enough' in West PH Sea dispute

Meanwhile, Robredo said she will continue to strengthen relations with the US, while "creat[ing] better ties" in the areas of protection for Filipinos living there.

Part of bolstering US ties include "increasing exports, bolstering trade, military and intelligence capabilities, and of course protecting the West Philippine Sea," Robredo said.

"We also need to strengthen our diplomatic relations with our other allies, ASEAN countries, EU, Great Britain, Australia, and all the others. And in countries where there are large concentration of OFWs," she said.

"We will be open to working with everyone so long as it is to the best interest of the Filipino people," Robredo said.