Hu, Aquino vow to deepen ties

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 September, 2011, 12:00am

China and the Philippines vowed yesterday in a joint communique to deepen bilateral exchanges in the political, cultural, judicial and military fields, as Philippine President Benigno Aquino wrapped up meetings with top Chinese leaders on his first state visit.

Both sides also reiterated their pledges that maritime disputes would not affect bilateral ties.

The communique issued by President Hu Jintao and Aquino, also said both sides would discuss the establishment of a nautical highway that would 'infuse new energy' into bilateral economic development - a move analysts said was conducive to easing tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Aquino stressed when meeting National People's Congress Standing Committee chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao that he was committed to enhancing ties with China.

Both sides gave a positive assessment to the state visit, with Aquino saying he was thankful for the support of the Chinese, who agreed to allocate towards co-operation with the Philippines a 'substantial portion' of funding for investment between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

'We can go home confident that we will be bringing a lot of good news for our people,' he told Wu.

Both sides said they agreed not to let tensions in the South China Sea, which have been escalating in recent months, affect the broader picture of friendship and co-operation.

'The two leaders reiterated their commitment to addressing the disputes through peaceful dialogue, to maintain continued regional peace, security, stability and an environment conducive to economic progress,' it said.

They agreed to enhance regular high-level exchanges, visits and meetings between leaders, cabinet members, legislators, judicial officials and military officials.

The two countries will also double the number of two-way touristjarrivals to two million by 2016.

The communique said it was 'highly practical and important' for both sides to strengthen co-operation amid the current instability of the global economy and the growing role of emerging markets.

Zhuang Guotu, director of the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, said both militaries might introduce regular communication for matters related to the South China Sea, as well as conduct joint rescue exercises.

He also said the planned nautical highway was an important step in addressing tensions in the disputed waters.

'It means that vessels of both sides can travel in the highway more freely without worrying whether they will be intercepted by law enforcement vessels, which can ignite diplomatic spats,' he said.

Wu and Wen described Aquino's visit as a success. Wen called for mutual respect and proper handling of disputes, for regional stability.

Aquino will meet with business representatives in Shanghai today. Tomorrow, he will trace his ancestral roots in Xiamen, Fujian.