China says ties with Philippines are at a turning point

China hopes Manila can meet China halfway and handle the disputes appropriately.

The ties with Philippines are at a turning point, China said, adding that it expects Manila to handle the conflicts appropriately.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told a delegation from a Philippines foreign affairs committee in Beijing that recently the relations had "sunk to a low edge for reasons everyone knows".

"At present, China-Philippine relations are at a new turning point," a statement from China's Foreign Ministry quoted Liu as saying.

Liu said: "China hopes the Philippines side can meet China halfway, appropriately handle disputes and push relations back onto the track of dialogue, consultation and friendly cooperation."

Both the nations have been involved in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually, while Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have rival claims.

An arbitration court in The ruled in July that China's vast claims in the South China Sea have no legal basis. The court criticized Beijing's environmental destruction in the disputed area.

The ruling infuriated China and it refused to accept the verdict. Philippines, who filed the arbitration case, requested China to accept the ruling a number of times but Beijing called the Philippines' claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea "baseless" and an "act of bad faith".

It vowed to take all necessary measures to protect its sovereignty over the South China Sea. Beijing said it had the right to set up an air defense zone.

Since then, both countries have been on a diplomatic push to ease tensions. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that he hoped the two nations could bring bilateral ties back to a normal track.

In August, former president Fidel Ramos, a Philippines special envoy, said that Manila wanted formal negotiations with China to explore pathways to peace and cooperation.