1st meeting of China-Philippines South China Sea consultation mechanism convened

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The training exercise, held on an island on the small Natuna archipelago in the South China Sea, was reportedly aimed at bolstering maritime defences to protect Indonesia's special economic zone from perceived Chinese aggression amid frequent clashes between the two countries' vessels.

Sources with the Foreign Ministry said the three committees focus on navigation security and search and rescue technology cooperation, maritime scientific research and environmental protection, and fighting maritime cross-border crime.

The announcement was made in a joint press release issued after the first meeting of the China-Philippines BCM on the South China Sea.

"His response to me, 'we're friends, we don't want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we'll go to war".

Chito Santa Romana, Philippine Ambassador to China, says that Manila didn't get the assurances it wanted from the United States and the worldwide community that they would support the Philippines in any conflict with China over the South China Sea.

"The draft framework, which was completed ahead of the mid-2017 goal set by the leaders of ASEAN and China, contains elements which the parties have agreed upon", Bolivar said.

It did not mention Manila's victory previous year before a United Nations-backed arbitration court, which ruled that China's claims on the disputed waters did not have legal basis.

Both sides also discussed the promotion of practical maritime cooperation and the possible establishment of relevant technical working groups.

The next meeting will be held in the Philippines in the second half of this year. These, combined with huge gaps in the Trump administration's foreign policy team, may be handing Beijing nearly complete control of the South China Sea.

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Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta.

In July a year ago, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China and in favor of the Philippines in an arbitration case.

In late March, China had commenced trial mining of NGH in the Shenhu sea, in an area that is 320kms away from Zhuhai City in Guangdong province in the southeast direction.

China and ASEAN countries on Thursday approved a draft framework of the South China Sea Code of Conduct, marking a milestone in peacefully resolving the South China Sea issue.

Meanwhile, China said a meeting of Japanese and New Zealand prime ministers regarding the South China Sea was "inappropriate".

China found flammable ice, a kind of natural gas hydrate, in the South China Sea in 2007, state-run Xinhau news agency reported.

"If it's legally binding, which court can the parties go to?"

The participating countries affirmed that they will continue with dialogues and consultations to promote the DOC/COC process, for peace and stability in the region in general and the East Sea in particular. But I'm saying let's start with it being a binding, gentlemen's agreement. "We have a community of nations that signed it", he added.

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