China, PHL agree to self-restraint to prevent escalating disputes

The Philippines and China reported that the Second Meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM) held on February 13 in Manila was “positive, fruitful and productive.”

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique A. Manalo and China Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou co-chaired the said meeting.

“Taking off from the discussions during the inaugural meeting of the BCM on 19 May 2017 in Guiyang, China, both sides had a frank, cordial exchange of views on issues of concern on the South China Sea,” said in the joint statement released after the meeting.

“With the objective of maintaining and promoting peace and stability in the region, both sides discussed ways to manage and prevent incidents at sea,promote dialogue and cooperation on maritime issues, and enhance mutual trust and confidence,” the two sides added.

The two sides added that they reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace and stability, freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, freedom of international commerce and other peaceful uses of the sea, addressing territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations and the 1982 UNCLOS.

“Both sides agreed to continue discussions on confidence-building measures to increase mutual trust and confidence and to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities in the South China Sea that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability,” added in the joint statement.

The third BCM “will be held in China in the second half of 2018 at a mutually convenient date.”