It was Chinese pholosopher Lao Tzu who immortalized the saying: “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.”
After President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Beijing, the conflict on South China Sea will finally be put to the table and discussed bilaterally.
Setting aside the favorable arbitral decision the Philippines got from the International Arbitral Tribunal on the territorial dispute, President Duterte took a rather unpopular but more pragmatic position on the conflict with China. It was a position that was to be a step backward, but two steps forward.
On Friday, the two countries will finally get to talk one on one and head on with the issue.
China will host the first bilateral consultation mechanism meeting with the Philippines on the South China Sea issue in Guiyang, Guizhou, province according to China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Representatives from both countries will tackle issues reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Duterte on South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
The two leaders believe this is also in line with the responsibilities that must be shouldered by China and the Philippines as regional countries that the two sides will have friendly dialogues and consultations on the South China Sea-related issues.
China’s foreign affairs office said the two leaders reached important consensus on properly resolving the South China Sea issue through dialogue and consultation, which serves the fundamental interests of China, the Philippines and people in the region as well as peace and stability of the South China Sea and beyond.
Aside from working on the implementation of relevant consensus reached between Presidents Xi and Duterte, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said China is committed to maintain the long-term development of bilateral relations as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea.
The bilateral meeting will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana.
The Philippines-China relations has been rejuvenated following President Duterte’s four-day state visit in Beijing in October last year upon invitation of President Xi.
The talks will put forward the mutual agreement between the main contenders of the disputed territory and should put a peaceful settlement instead of one that will continue to hound the Philippines and China.
There goes the step we needed to do.