The president of the Philippines claims that relations with China are “in poor direction.”

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said a “paradigm shift” was needed in how his country approaches the South China Sea issue, as diplomatic efforts with Beijing were headed “in a poor direction”.

Marcos, in an interview with Japanese media on Dec. 16, parts of which were shared with Philippine media on Monday, said traditional diplomatic efforts were being disregarded by China, according to a presidential palace release.

“To this point, we have resorted to the traditional methods of diplomacy … but we have been doing this for many years now, with very little progress,” said Marcos, who was in Japan for Tokyo’s commemorative summit with the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN).

“It’s time that the countries that feel that they have an involvement in this situation, we have to come up with a paradigm shift,” Marcos said, while reiterating the Philippines wants to avoid violent conflict.

He added his government will continue talking to its partners and come up with a joint position stating their responsibilities as far as the West Philippines Sea is concerned.

The Philippines refers to the part of South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone as the West Philippines Sea.

Last week, Manila and Beijing traded accusations over a collision of their vessels near a disputed shoal in the South China Sea as tensions over claims in the vital waterway escalate.

In addition to the Philippines, ASEAN members Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims with China in parts of the South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said China’s claims had no legal basis, a ruling the United States supports but Beijing rejects.

There was no immediate comment from the Chinese Embassy in Manila.

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