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2nd PHL-China talks on sea row set for Tuesday

The Philippines and China will hold on Tuesday their second meeting in connection with their maritime dispute in the South China Sea, Malacañang said Monday.

Among those expected to take part in the Manila meeting, which came nine months after the first engagement in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China on May 19 last year, are Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo and Chinese Vice Foreign  Minister Kong Xuanyou for China.

The second meeting was supposed to be held last December but was postponed for February.

"We were busy last December," Roque said.

The BCM was established based on the joint statement issued after President Rodrigo Duterte’s landmark visit to China in October 2016.

"The purpose of this BCM is to discuss issues of concern to either side and cooperation in the South China Sea, and identify mutually acceptable approaches towards addressing this issue," Roque said.

"So we are not being soft on China, there are ongoing bilateral talks as far as contentious South China Sea issues are concerned."

The upcoming meeting comes after reports said Beijing had almost finished transforming the seven reefs claimed by Manila into military bases.

The Aquino administration took China to the arbitration court and won a favorable ruling that invalidated in July 2016 China's expansive claims in the resource-rich waterway.

Duterte, however, said he will temporarily set aside the ruling to avoid confrontation with China, but vowed to raise it at the right time during his term. — RSJ, GMA News