Philippines rejects China talks not based on sea feud ruling

Two young women walk past signage for a KFC fast food restaurant in Shanghai

Two young women walk past signage for a KFC fast food restaurant in Shanghai

The Philippines made a decision to take its dispute with China to worldwide arbitration in 2013 after China took control of Scarborough Shoal and reneged on a U.S. State Department-brokered deal for both countries to withdraw their ships from the area to ease a risky faceoff, according to former President Benigno Aquino III, who brought the case against Beijing.

China said on Monday (July 18) that it had begun what would become regular military air patrols over disputed islands and shoals of the South China Sea, highlighting its claim to the vast area a week after an worldwide tribunal said Beijing's assertion of sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis.

China on Monday closed a part of the South China Sea for military manoeuvres as it moved quickly to assert control over the disputed waters after an global tribunal struck down its claims over the region.

"[China's foreign minister] had asked us to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside, or [in] disregard of, the arbitral ruling", said Perfecto Yasay in a television interview, according to Reuters news agency.

China refused to participate in the tribunal's proceedings and rejected the ruling.

Yasay's account of the meeting highlights the challenge ahead for the Philippines, a US ally, in getting China to comply with the decision which has ramped up tensions in the vital trade route.

"They said if you will insist on the ruling, discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation", Yasay said.

Yasay said he hoped the ruling would lead to other Southeast Asian countries issuing a joint statement, adding that it could help neighbours also locked in disputes with China.

Two days after the tribunal issued its ruling, Chinese coast guard ships again blocked Filipino fishermen from approaching the shoal in scenes documented by an ABS-CBN news crew.

Scarborough Shoal is disputed with the Philippines and is seen as a particular flashpoint.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force has conducted a combat air patrol with long range bombers in the South China Sea recently, which will become "a regular practice" in the future, a military spokesperson said.

An estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes each year through the South China Sea, which is home to rich fishing grounds and a potentially vast wealth of oil, gas and other natural resources.

Yasay took an assertive tone Tuesday. Yasay says he asked Wang to put a stop to the blockade.

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