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Philippines willing to share South China Sea with Beijing

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay works at his desk in his office in Manila, July 8, 2016. (AFP photo)

The Philippines has voiced its readiness to share the natural resources of the disputed South China Sea with Beijing even if an arbitration court ruling is in its favor.

The court in The Hague is due to announce the ruling on July 12 in the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.

On Friday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is willing to directly negotiate with China over jointly making use of natural gas reserves and fishing grounds in the disputed maritime territory quickly after the court’s decision.

"We can even have the objective of seeing how we can jointly explore this territory: how we can utilize and benefit mutually from the utilization of the resources in this exclusive economic zone where claims are overlapping," Yasay said.

China has long-standing disputes over maritime territory in the energy-rich, strategic waters of the South China Sea with other regional states such as Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Washington has sided with China’s rivals in the row, with Beijing accusing the United States of meddling in the regional issues and deliberately stirring up tensions in the South China Sea.

This photo taken on June 18, 2016, and released June 19, 2016, by the US Navy shows a flight formation of Boeing F/A-18E and F Super Hornets from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 and 9 above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) in the Philippine Sea. (AFP photo)

Angered by Manila’s complaint at the arbitration court, China has already said it will not be bound by the court ruling.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei slammed on Friday the case as "a violation of international rule of order under the cloak of championing it," with state-run media saying the country would not take a "single step back" in the dispute.

The Philippine foreign secretary also stressed that the newly-elected president, Duterte, is keen on maintaining good relations with China unlike the former president, Benigno Aquino.

"The statements we will be making will be in the pursuit of strengthening our relationship with everybody and will be for the purpose of making sure there will be no stumbling block" to the talks on a peaceful solution to the issue, he said.

Yasay said the Philippines would not give up any rights in the disputed sea.

However, he said the dispute is a "generational issue" that would take many years to be solved.

Reports said Duterte and Yasay met with China's Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua on Thursday. The Chinese diplomat was also seen at the Department of Foreign Affairs on Friday.

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