Britain trying to headline grab in South China Sea, says state media

Duterte meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

Chinese and Philippine officials met Tuesday in Manila and discussed proposed joint projects in the South China Sea.

The politician said it was important that the US, Britain, Australia and other countries "assert our values" in the South China Sea.

The inaugural iteration of the mechanism took place in Guiyang, China, back in May 2017, and it was supposed to be held every six months, alternating between China and the Philippines. "Both sides had a positive, fruitful and productive meeting".

China has repeatedly accused countries outside the region - generally a reference to the United States and Japan - of trying to provoke trouble in the South China Sea at a time when China and its neighbours are trying to resolve the matter through diplomacy.

First, the extent of current progress being made should not be overstated. The prime minister, Theresa May, wrapped up a largely successful trip to China earlier this month. There were intensive discussions on mutually beneficial joint initiatives and consensus on the convening of technical working groups in the areas of fisheries, oil and gas, marine scientific research and marine environmental protection, and political security, in the framework of the BCM. China offers great opportunities but it provides great challenges as well. Both sides had a positive, fruitful and productive meeting.

But other areas like oil and gas will be tougher.

Chinese state media claims UK foray into South China Sea is just 'attention-seeking'
UK warship to sail through disputed South China Sea

These included a five-year export drive by Aston Martin worth £600 million and involving more than 20 showrooms for the luxury cars across China, as well as plans by Staffordshire-based Busy Bees to open a string of childcare nurseries including an global pre-school in Shanghai.

Third, and more generally, beyond the consultation mechanism itself, managing bilateral ties on this front still remains a significant challenge.

In 2015, the International Court of arbitration in The Hague ruled that China's historic claims to most of the South China Sea were invalid. China claims all of the South China Sea as its sovereign waters, and has been busy militarizing a number of reefs and islets.

To date, Roque said that the current foreign policy of the Philippines with China is for issues that are non-contentious such as investments and trade to "proceed as soon as possible" and for contentious issues such as the South China to "proceed on the basis of bilateral negotiations".

"Australia and Britain see China as a country of great opportunities, but we shouldn't be blind to the ambition that China has and we've got to defend our national security interests", he said. Indeed, as I have observed previously, numerous inroads we have seen in Sino-Philippine ties under Duterte would have seemed unimaginable right before he took office, even if we have seen some of them tried by past Philippine leaders before him as well.

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