Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. (right) and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meet virtually to discuss Philippines-China relations on July 14, 2020. (DFA photo)

MANILA – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and his Chinese counterpart Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday underscored that the two countries’ maritime issue on the South China Sea is not the sum total of the Philippines-China bilateral relationship.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the two top diplomats engaged in “open, cordial, fruitful discussions”.

“Both sides reaffirmed that contentious maritime issues are not the sum total of the Philippines-China bilateral relationship. With mutual respect, sincerity, and adherence to sovereign equality, both sides will continue to manage issues of concern and promote maritime cooperation in friendly consultation,” it said.

As the officials recognized the “positive turnaround” in Manila and Beijing’s ties, the agency noted that both sides agreed to further strengthen the strategic cooperation between the two nations.

“Secretary Locsin reiterated the importance of continued dialogue to propel Philippines-China cooperation forward across various fronts under the ‘new normal’ brought about by the global Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic,” the DFA said.

The virtual meeting between the two officials at Wang’s request came days after both Manila and Washington called on parties in the South China Sea to uphold the international law and to comply with the landmark 2016 Arbitral Ruling that invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line, an invisible demarcation that lays claim on almost 80 percent of the region. (PNA)