China vows no bullying, to work with PH to 'properly resolve' South China Sea issue

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State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 18) — China vowed to work with the Philippines in properly handling the South China Sea issues, saying it would not bully smaller countries to resolve disputes.

In his address at the 5th Manila Forum on Monday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi said each side has their own claims and positions, but it is important to prevent those from "taking hostage the overall bilateral relationship."

"China will absolutely not use its strength to bully smaller countries, and we never believe in a winner-takes-all approach," he said

Imposing one side's claims and will over the other is not the proper way to treat neighbors and goes against Oriental philosophy, he added.

READ: A look back at PH-China relations, maritime row in 2021 

Wang said China and the Philippines must find ways to properly manage and resolve the issue in the spirit of goodwill and pragmatism, so that both countries could equally benefit from the solution.

"We need to come up with the resolve as soon as possible to advance joint development without prejudice to either side's rights and claims," he added.

Wang further stressed that China would continue to work with the country to keep peace in East Asia despite what he called "repeated provocations" from outside the region.

He gave the assurance despite Beijing's continued disregard of the 2016 ruling of an international tribunal in The Hague that largely ruled in favor of the Philippines in a historic case against China over the South China Sea dispute.

The decision invalidated Beijing's sweeping claims over virtually the entire South China Sea and recognized Manila’s sovereign rights in areas within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone that China contests.

In 2021 alone, hundreds of the China's vessels were spotted scattered around the West Philippine Sea — a portion of the South China Sea that includes the Philippines' claimed areas and exclusive economic zone — despite repeated calls from the Philippine government for the withdrawal of the ships. Filipino fisherfolk also bared challenges in bringing home catch due to the presence of foreign vessels in their regular fishing grounds.

At the same event, China announced a 100 million RMB yuan (about ₱800 million) grant to help areas in the country that were hit by Typhoon Odette. It is on top of an earlier ₱50-million emergency cash assistance to support victims of the destructive typhoon.