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PHL, China to discuss South China Sea bilateral mechanism in May

The Philippines and China are expected to discuss the bilateral mechanism on the South China Sea issue this coming May, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a Monday statement.
Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, in his courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City, had said that China had been looking forward to discussing the matter with the Philippines. 
"He conveyed that China looked forward to the convening, in May 2017, of the first meeting of the bilateral mechanism set up to properly handle the SCS issue," explained Abella. "Through this bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation will be forged and misunderstandings will be avoided."
Zhao had also said that China was determined to work with ASEAN member states in finalizing the Code of Conduct Framework on the South China Sea mid-2017.
The Chinese ambassador also mentioned the successful meeting between Philippine and Chinese Coast Guard committees, and China's readiness to implement the agreed memorandum of understanding signed during Duterte's Beijing visit last October.
"He (Zhao) looks forward to the Philippine Coast Guard delegation's visit to China to hammer out actions, activities and new engagements to ensure that SCS is a sea of cooperation," Abella added. 
Additionally, the Chinese ambassador looked forward to the resumption of bilateral defense cooperation between the two nations. 
Aside from the South China Sea, Zhao and Duterte also discussed infrastructure projects and anti-poverty programs. 
"H.E. Zhao hoped that the infrastructure projects in the pipeline will soon be launched, implemented, and completed within the term of PRRD," said Abella. "H.E. Zhao reported that China hopes for PH to soon utilize donations for anti-poverty programs and anti-illegal drugs operations." — DVM, GMA News