China and the Philippines convened the third meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on Thursday in Beijing as a platform to address differences, prevent and properly manage incidents at sea, and enhance maritime dialogue and cooperation.
The dialogue was acknowledged as a venue for enhanced and regular exchanges that can play a significant role in the stable development of bilateral relations.
Vice-Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou led the Chinese delegation that met the Philippine delegation led by Foreign Undersecretary Enrique Manalo.
Kong said the two sides "are able to properly manage the differences, advance maritime practical cooperation, and constantly build understanding and trust" through the mechanism, which "has yielded quite a lot of progress and concrete results".
According to the statement issued after the meeting, the dialogue was "fruitful and productive" as the two parties exchanged views on current and other issues of concern, and considered approaches to address such issues in a "mutually beneficial way".
The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, freedom of international commerce and other peaceful uses of the sea, believing that the proper management of disputes in the South China Sea is vital in safeguarding regional peace and stability.
China and the Philippines will continue to address 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 and the exercise of self-restraint, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law.
Participants reiterated that the contentious maritime issues are not the sum total of China-Philippines relations, and agreed that the increasingly dynamic relations should serve the interests of the Filipino and Chinese peoples, and contribute to peace, stability and development in the region.
The two sides recognized the importance of the other complementary multilateral platforms, including the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, ASEAN Regional Forum, and East Asia Summit, in promoting regional peace and stability.
Representatives also exchanged views on ways to enhance maritime cooperation in various areas, such as maritime search and rescue, maritime safety, marine environmental protection, marine scientific research, and fisheries.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday that the two countries came back to the right track of resolving maritime issues through talks by establishing the bilateral consultation mechanism in early 2017, and have been properly handling differences and promoting pragmatic maritime cooperation through the mechanism.
The first and second meetings were held in Guiyang, Guizhou province, in May 2017, and Manila, the Philippines, in February 2018.
The fourth meeting will be held in the Philippines in the first half of 2019, with the exact date and place to be determined and mutually agreed upon through diplomatic channels.