Have China and the Philippines ever reached an agreement on the disputed islands?

Philippines sticks to “gentlemen’s agreement” amid denials, potentially escalating conflict

As the dispute in the South China Sea further escalates after the Chinese Coast Guard sprayed water on Philippine ships in waters off Scarborough Shoal on April 30, the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines responded to reporters’ questions through a spokesperson on May 4. I answered. , the Philippine Department of Defense denied on April 27 that the two countries had held dialogue regarding the dispute, noting that the two countries had formed a “new model” for the management and control of the Second Thomas Shoal. It concerns the sovereignty of the parties. ”

The statement even noted that the agreement was “repeatedly confirmed by the Western Philippine Military District, and the ‘new model’ was approved by all key figures in the Philippine chain of command, including the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Adviser.” A detailed and complete record of the communication and negotiation process described above. ”

This latest statement comes after the Chinese embassy in the Philippines responded to a reporter’s question on May 2, reiterating that the two countries reached a tacit agreement on the dispute in 2016. The announcement was made after the company reiterated its position. An agreement was reached. The outside world believes that China may become stronger in the future. If this stance is maintained, the conflict between the two countries in the South China Sea may further intensify.

On April 18, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Manila’s website responded to a reporter’s question, pointing out that China had repeatedly advised and negotiated with current Philippine government officials to enter into a “gentleman’s agreement” with the previous Philippine government. . Regarding the Second Thomas Reef issue, the Chinese government invited the Philippines last year. A special presidential dialogue envoy visited China and reached a domestic understanding on how to manage the situation. Earlier this year, the Chinese government through diplomatic channels reached an agreement with the Philippine military on a “new model” for transporting supplies in the disputed shoal.

This statement was denied by Philippine Defense Secretary Teodoro on April 27. In a statement, he noted that since President Marcos took office in 2022, the Pentagon has “never heard of or participated in any internal agreement with China.” Philippine Department of Defense officials have not had any dialogue with Chinese officials since last year.

In this regard, China’s latest statement not only emphasized the preservation of the negotiating record, but also accused the Max administration of confusing the negotiating record. “Why has the Marcos administration repeatedly denied that it has negotiated with China to reach an understanding and arrangement on the management and control of Second Thomas Shoal? Why has the Philippine Department of Defense worked with China to resolve maritime disputes through dialogue? Did they refuse to negotiate?” A “Gentlemen’s Agreement” was reached between the former Philippine government and China, allowing the current Philippine government and China to reach a “new model” to manage their differences and avoid conflict. What if it was actually proven? It worked once, so why did the Philippines abandon it again for no reason?

As of May 4 night, Asian time, the Philippines had not responded to China’s statement. However, current Philippine President Marcos and former President Duterte have said separately that they have never reached an agreement with China that could undermine the Philippines’ sovereignty. According to the country’s 1987 constitution, signing a similar agreement could lead to impeachment.

Regarding China’s continued insistence on an agreement between the two countries, current President Marcos said on April 15 that he believed his predecessor, Duterte, had reached a dubious “secret deal” with China regarding the South China Sea issue. , no record exists.

Since President Marcos took office, there has been an ongoing dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. On May 2, the Philippines summoned China’s deputy ambassador to the Philippines to protest China’s harassment of Philippine ships. This is the 20th time this year that the Philippines has protested against China over the South China Sea issue, and the 153rd time during the term of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Reuters reported, citing Philippine officials.

On May 2, the defense ministers of the United States, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines held a quadrilateral defense ministers’ meeting in Hawaii. After the meeting, U.S. Secretary of Defense Austin pointed out that the United States has made its position clear to everyone, including the Chinese government, regarding the South China Sea issue. “This is an irresponsible act that endangers the Filipino crew, causes injury to the crew and damage to the vessel, and disregards international law,” he said. He also reiterated that the United States is committed to the 1951 Treaty between the United States and the Philippines. He promised that the joint defense treaty would be “ironclad” and emphasized that Washington and Manila are united.

At a press conference, Philippine Defense Secretary Teodoro expressed support for the principles of international law regarding territorial sovereignty and welcomed the cooperation of the four countries. He emphasized that his and Austin’s responsibility as defense secretaries is to “ensure that the Joint Defense Treaty is not triggered” through military buildup and deterrence. “We must protect our rights, but we must do so in a way that protects the safety of all members of the Philippine Armed Forces,” he said.

U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden, have repeatedly stressed in recent months that attacks on Philippine aircraft, ships or troops in the South China Sea would trigger the U.S.-Philippine Joint Defense Treaty.

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