FILE - This aerial file photo taken May 11, 2015 through a glass window of a military plane shows China's alleged on-going reclamation of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. (Ritchie B. Tongo/Pool Photo via AP, File)
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The Chinese ambassador in Manila said Wednesday that trade between China and the Philippines grew last year despite their protracted territorial conflicts, providing hope their relations could flourish even as tensions remain.While China is a large Philippine trading partner, the trade volume has lagged far behind Beijing's trade and investment in other Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.Zhao reiterated China's offer for both countries to settle their differences through one-on-one negotiation and not through international arbitration, which Beijing has rejected.Although China has declared that it would not join the proceedings, the tribunal recently held hearings to address Beijing's position that the five-man arbitration body has no authority to hear the case.The long-simmering disputes among China, the Philippines and four other governments flared again last year when Beijing launched massive island-building in seven disputed reefs in the South China Sea's Spratly Islands.
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