Ranking officials of the Philippine and Chinese governments convened in Manila Tuesday to discuss the disputed South China Sea amid the country's protests against Chinese presence near Pagasa Island in the West Philippine Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said Manila raised its concern over specific issues and developments in the region before its Chinese counterparts.
In a frank yet cordial and constructive manner, both sides raised specific issues and recent developments and actions in the South China Sea, which have raised concerns to either side, and proposed ways to address them in a cooperative manner, it said in a statement.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate and to continue to find ways forward to strengthen mutual trust and confidence, it added.
At the same time, the two nations acknowledged that the issues in the South China Sea are not the sum total of the PhilippinesChina relations and should not exclude mutually beneficial cooperation in other fields.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. earlier confirmed that the country served a "salvo of diplomatic notes" to China over the reported presence of more than a hundred Chinese vessels near the Philippineoccupied Pagasa Island.
China, however, has yet to respond, Undersecretary Ernesto Abella told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
"The DFA confirms that the Philippines has sent a diplomatic note through the Chinese embassy in Manila. The DFA awaits a response," Abella said in a text message.
During the meeting, both sides committed to address the disputes in the area by "peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force" and in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the department said in the statement.
Beijing and Manila, it said, also had a productive exchange of views on ways to enhance maritime cooperation in the region, including on maritime search and rescue, maritime safety, marine environmental protection/marine scientific research, and fisheries.
Meanwhile, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to the freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea.
Among the subjects discussed during the fourth meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) on the South China Sea was the oil and gas development in the disputed strategic waters.
Without prejudice to their respective positions on sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction, both sides exchanged views on oil and gas development, the DFA said.
Whether there is any development on this talk, the agency has yet to issue a comment.
Last year, the two nations crafted the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation on Oil and Gas Development between Manila and Beijing.
The meeting, which concluded on Wednesday, was considered fruitful and productive by both sides, according to the DFA.
Its fifth meeting will be held in China in the second half of 2019, with the exact date and place to be determined and mutually agreed upon through diplomatic channels.
Source: Philippines News Agency