The Philippines' top diplomat revealed Tuesday that he had rejected China's offer to hold negotiations on the South China Sea outside of an worldwide court's recent ruling against Beijing's claim to ownership of the disputed waterway.
Last week, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against Beijing's claims to islands in the South China Sea, and sided with the Philippines that had filed the complaint.
The Philippines chose to take its dispute with China to global arbitration in 2013 after China took control of Scarborough Shoal and reneged on a U.S. State Department-brokered deal for both countries to withdraw their ships from the area to ease a risky faceoff, according to former President Benigno Aquino III, who brought the case against Beijing.
Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the Naval Military Studies Research Institute of the People's Liberation Army, said that numerous island-seizing military drills conducted by the US, Japan and the Philippines considered China as the potential enemy, and such provocations must be stopped.
Although the tribunal's ruling was likely to be raised in Richardson's discussions, the head of the Chinese navy, Adm. Wu Shengli, did not mention it directly in opening remarks to reporters at a meeting Monday between the two men at navy headquarters in Beijing.
Yasay is reported to have wanted Filipinos to be allowed to fish in the Scarborough Shoal without being harassed by the Chinese coast guard, which has allegedly been blocking Filipino boats from entering or fishing in the heavily contested shoals.
Mr Yasay had met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Mongolia last weekend.
"At this point in time, I am not sure whether negotiations can be pursued", Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said Tuesday.
The area of sea identified is some distance from the Paracel islands and even further from the Spratlys.
The US and its Pacific allies have expressed opposition to China's construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, accusing Beijing of attempting to establish an air defense zone. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.
Abella made the statement after United States Senator for Connecticut Christopher Murphy had said that President Rodrigo Duterte would no longer negotiate with China over disputed West Philippine Sea.
China seized the shoal in 2012 after a brief stand-off with the Philippine navy. Shen Jinke, the spokesman for China's PLA Air Force, said, "The PLA Air Force will firmly defend national sovereignty, security and maritime interests, safeguard regional peace and stability, and cope with various threats and challenges".