Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay speaks after the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Boracay, Aklan province, central Philippines, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (Xinhua/Dong Chengwen)
BORACAY, Philippines, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said on Tuesday that the South China Sea issue is not the "sum-total" of relations between the Philippines and China, and the two countries should focus on economy and investment.
At a news conference after the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting, he said the Philippines has set an arbitral ruling over the South China Sea dispute aside for now and decided to pursue the bigger aspects of the Philippinerelations with China, such as trade and investments.
He said the two countries should pursue the areas where they have the convergence of national interests to make sure that all parties concerned would benefit.
"That is also part of the confidence-building measure that we (the Philippines) contribute towards a peaceful (resolution of the dispute)," Yasay added.
The foreign secretary said the Philippine side is confident that in June or July the Philippines and other countries from ASEAN will work out the framework of a code of conduct in the South China Sea with China and he hopes this will lead to a peaceful resolution.
Meanwhile, Yasay said the ASEAN ministers discussed "the way forward for ASEAN community building" and exchanged views of regional and international issues of common interest and concern, and discussed ways to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.
These issues include non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism, piracy and armed robbery at sea, cyber-security, natural disasters, climate change, irregular migration, trafficking in persons and illicit drugs, maritime security and cooperation, and developments in crisis-hit regions, including the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.