MALACANANG on Tuesday expressed optimism on the relationship between the Philippines and China a year after the United Nations arbitral tribunal junked Beijing's historic claim in almost the entire South China Sea, called by Manila as West Philippine Sea.

"A year after the ruling of the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration) at The Hague, the Philippines and China are now in dialogue," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said, even describing the dialogue as "excellent."

On July 12, 2016, the PCA ruled in favor of the Philippines junking China's nine-dashed line, an imaginary demarcation line showing China's claim in almost whole of the South China Sea, including those within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zones of other surrounding countries like the Philippines.

Last May, Abella said both countries conducted the first meeting of the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism on the South China Sea, with both sides reiterating their commitment to cooperate and to find ways to strengthen the trust and confidence on issues related to the West Philippine Sea.

"The Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views on the current issues of concern to either side, and they have agreed that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches to deal with them," he added.

He said another bilateral meeting pertaining to the South China Sea will be held during the second semester of this year.

"And they have agreed that the next meeting should be in the half -- second half of 2017," Abella said.

Since he assumed office on June 30 last year, Duterte had already embarked on his two trips to China. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)