Chinese vice premier skirts territorial disputes in Philippine visit

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Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang on Friday stressed the need for the Philippines and China to focus on common interests than differences arising from territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Wang was the highest Chinese official to visit the Philippines since a row between the two countries escalated with Manila filing an arbitration case against Beijing in 2013.

In a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, he reiterated China’s commitment to help to boost trade and investment in the Philippines. “Wang noted the need to focus on common interests that bring more benefits than differences.

“The president said bilateral ties are found stronger, particularly in trade and commerce and reaffirmed the importance of peaceful settlement of disputes,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

It was not clear if Wang and Duterte discussed the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, following reports Beijing was planning to build environmental monitoring stations in the area.

One of the stations would be built on Scarborough Shoal, an area claimed by the Philippines but was seized by China in 2012 after a standoff between ships of the two countries.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal ruled that China violated the rights of Filipino fishermen in seizing the shoal and stopping them from fishing in the area.

The tribunal also invalidated Beijing’s claims to almost the entire South China Sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in mineral and marine resources.

Aside from the Philippines and China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea

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