• Wed
  • Sep 24, 2014
  • Updated: 2:37am

Philippines seeks 'tranquility' in relations with China

The Philippines moves to patch up differences with China, largely stemming from conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 4:09am

With China's foreign minister wrapping up a two-day trip to Vietnam yesterday, the Philippines becomes the only claimant country in the South China Sea dispute that Wang Yi has not visited.

But Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario is not giving up. When he met Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Manila on Thursday, Pham told him: "The Chinese foreign minister is coming [to Vietnam]. Do you have a message?"

Del Rosario said he told Pham: "Yes. Please, I am waiting for a positive response to my invitation" for the Chinese foreign minister to visit Manila.

China's snub highlights the rift between the two previously close countries. Since taking office in March this year, Wang has visited seven of 10 Asean member states. Two of those he hasn't visited - Cambodia and Myanmar - have warm relations with China and receive generous Chinese aid and investments.

Del Rosario had extended the invitation to Wang shortly after they both had "a testy exchange", news reports said, during the June 30 Asean meeting in Brunei, which included China. Del Rosario reportedly expressed "serious concern" over China's military build-up in the South China Sea.

That, plus the Philippines' unprecedented action to formally file for arbitration before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), has resulted in China's snub.

The Foreign Correspondents' Association of the Philippines found a more conciliatory Del Rosario during a meeting with him on Friday. He said: "I am looking for a modus vivendi with China. Some tranquility in terms of our relations."

When asked by the South China Morning Post to comment on President Xi Jinping's recent statement that China was open to shelving disputes and carrying out joint development in areas "over which China has sovereign rights", Del Rosario did not bristle. Instead, he recounted his meeting with Xi when the latter was still vice-president.

He said Xi brought up the concept of joint development. "The response that I have to your question is the same response I had with [Xi] in my discussions," said Del Rosario. "I said that as long as joint development does not violate Philippine law we are okay with it."

He said he had then suggested to Xi: "Sir, why don't we pursue an agreement with your good country so that we can move forward with a major bilateral agenda and abstract contentious issues like the west Philippine Sea? And [Xi] seemed okay with that."

He noted that both countries had signed "close to a hundred agreements". One of them specified that contentious issues would be tackled separately from the bilateral agenda.

Del Rosario defended his move to seek arbitration before the ITLOS. He said it was "a mechanism in international law [which] the United Nations has declared is not an unfriendly act".

"In our heart we believe we did the right thing ... win or lose ... it will create maritime entitlement, verification. So everybody is clarified," he said, adding that more and more countries were sharing this viewpoint.

Del Rosario also praised what he called Brunei's outstanding manner of chairing the Asean meeting. He disclosed that on their very first meeting, Brunei immediately raised the South China Sea issue, saying: "We need to discuss it because it is a very important element in terms of peace and security."


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This article is now closed to comments

Can't we all just get along?
I have been to Metro Manila many many times in the span of 13 years. No improvements at all. Airport is still lousy as ever. It's local airlines are like high class economy. The beach is mediocre. However, i have to admit amanpulo resort is really very nice. All in all. You can always skip this country from South China Sea and visit Malaysia, truly Asia. When it comes to foreigners acceptability, Thailand is the best choice from beaches to hospitality.
El Nido in Palawan and Boracay, 2 top beaches in the world, mediocre? How about Hongkong or China do you have one in top ten? Chinese tourist skipping the country never meant anything for us, Chinese tourist are known misers and uncouth, unwanted in many countries for their behavior.
You guys have to remember, PH needs China more than the other way around. PH can remove all filipino maids in Hong Kong and ShangHai, China will hire more Indonesians, Nepalese, and Bangladeshis, who have good command of international English. Filipino maids can all move to middle east and let the Arabs take advantage of them physically. Singapore is starting to hire less and less filipinos and shifting to Indonesians. Next time you know, PH will be extinct and need to beg for work from China since they can't find work in their own domicile.
@han.peng. Funny pseudonym for pinoy. Maybe you forgot that within living memory, the yanks colonised the Philippines for many years & the **** invaded your country & raped your women during WW2. What has China done to harm the Philippines or its people? There is only a dispute between our 2 countries. China's position is merely that it has as valid a claim to the disputed island groups as the Philippines or anybody else, as is borne out by written historical records. So what kind of logic that makes you to accept actrocities & human rights abuses to your country/people to one that you're only arguing with?
We Filipinos doesn't like the pirated version of China arms... We rather accept the garbage of the U.S. China is not an economic power... they are the nation of propaganda and lies.... We are enjoying the Independence that no other nation in the world enjoys.... we die fighting for democracy because we are FREE...
lol free my @ss. You country is US lapdog. Who blindly followed US foreign policy.
"We are enjoying the Independence that no other nation in the world enjoys" hahaha...
If PH does not like pirated merchandise, why do your fellow compatriots keep importing China-Made products from iPhone's to all your industrial and home appliances. Check your own Divisoria hawker market area. Same filipinos import low quality merchandise for their own people and blame China for everything. Sour Graping again, aren't we. As the saying goes, "Beggars can't be choosers." PH needs China more than the other way around.
So free and wonderful that the entire Philippines economy depends on labourers and domestic helpers; yep, free and democratic to be a basketcase backwater country....
Hahahahaha! What a joke this statement "We are enjoying the independence that no other nation in the world enjoys"......Such prejudice.......good for a laugh!
Independence from what? Slavery? Isn't that paradoxical? Isn't the new modern day of slavery definition is called Filipino Domestic Workers or OFW. They are the new "Slave" to work long hours so can send pesos to PH so the rest of the filipino 100 million population can eat rice? Why are they suffering like this? It is because the corrupt PH gov't treats their own citizens like ****. Why let your own compatriots suffer this kind of thing, beats me.
It's time for China to encourage Philippines to be the Cuba of Asia.
Why else would the macaques challenge the most powerful economy in Asia ,
and soon in the world ?

Good show mate! Keep digging...you have extraterritorial cheerleaders and advisors, China does not speak proper English so cannot find allies...


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