China yesterday rejected a proposal from the Philippines calling for a moratorium on activities to end tension in the South China Sea, as Beijing said it could consult with states individually and ASEAN to settle disputes.
"If the Philippines would like to carry out the plan then it should revoke the international arbitration in the first place," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters.
China would employ a dual-track approach to deal with the South China Sea issue - direct consultation with claimants, and engaging all of ASEAN to have a code of conduct, he said.
The Philippines, which is a claimant state in the sea and has territorial conflicts with China, proposed its Triple Action Plan as a framework to cool escalating tension in the troubled sea.
However, minister Wang said the meeting between China and ASEAN yesterday, which he co-chaired with Thai Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow, did not specifically discuss the Philippines' proposal.
Thailand is the current coordinator for ASEAN in dealing with China and Sihasak is acting foreign minister.
Manila's three-step plan comprised immediate, intermediate and final moves to handle what it called "provocative and destabilising" activities in the sea.
"As an immediate approach, the plan calls for a moratorium on specific activities that escalate tension in the South China Sea. This approach brings to fore the need for a more concrete definition of paragraph 5 of the ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea (DOC)," the Philippines' statement said.
The 5th paragraph of DOC says parties should exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes. The DOC was signed since 2002 but it is a not a legally binding document.