AS China defies an arbitration ruling that invalidated its vast territorial claims, two top diplomats of Japan and the Philippines have called on Beijing to avoid intimidation and follow the rule of law in disputed waters.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida made the call on Thursday after meeting in Davao City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, where they discussed ways to enhance ties and their countries’ territorial disputes with China.
Yasay urged China to make sure that maritime order and security and the rule of law are “completely and uncompromisingly” respected.
Referring to China, he says Japan and the Philippines have had the same experience “with respect to certain actions that use force (and) intimidation.”
Kishida says maritime order based on the rule of law is indispensable for regional stability.
On Tuesday, former Philippine President Fidel Ramos said he wants to focus on points of common interest with China, such as tourism and commercial fishing, as part of efforts to smooth relations with Beijing roiled by the South China Sea dispute.
Ramos spoke with reporters in Hong Kong, where he said he planned to meet old friends with links to officials in Beijing.
Current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the 88-year-old Ramos to act as his special envoy to pave the way for talks with Beijing after an international arbitration tribunal invalidated China’s expansive territorial claims in a case put forward by the Philippines.
China has denied Philippine fishermen access to traditional grounds lying within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile (370-kilometer) exclusive economic zone, an area Ramos implied the countries could share.
Additional reporting by Associated Press