By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

THE Chinese government on Thursday proposed a joint inquiry into the June 9 Recto Bank incident.

Malacañang has said that it is open to this “possibility.”

Responding to a question on the incident in a press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said: “To find a proper solution, we suggest a joint investigation at an early date so the two sides can exchange respective initial findings and properly handle the matter through friendly consultations based on mutually-recognized investigation results.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila posted the transcript on its Twitter and Facebook pages on Thursday evening.

Mr. Lu reiterated that the Chinese government “sympathizes” with the 22 Filipino fishermen involved in the incident, which took place at the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

“Once again, I would like to offer sympathy to the Filipino fishermen who were in distress after the accidental collision of a Chinese and a Filipino fishing vessel in Liyue Tan, Nansha,” the official said.

Last Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a press briefing at the Palace: “I am tinkering the idea of suggesting that [to Mr. Duterte], joint investigation ng dalawang bansa (of both countries).”

For his part, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles told reporters in an interview that a joint probe is a “possibility.”

“It’s one of the options,” the Palace official also said.

Mr. Lu said the Chinese government “attaches great importance to friendly relations with the Philippines and safety of personnel at sea, regardless of nationality.”

He added that China will “continue to investigate the incident thoroughly and communicate with the Philippine side via bilateral channels.”