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China urges Philippines to mend ties after sea row

/ 01:31 PM September 22, 2012

Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas

BEIJING — Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping has told a visiting Philippine envoy that he hopes ties hurt by a territorial row can recover, state media said Saturday.

Vice President Xi told Philippine Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas that tensions between the two countries had “eased” after a blow-up over a disputed island in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), Xinhua news agency reported.

Trouble flared in April when vessels from the two countries became engaged in a stand-off over the Scarborough Shoal. Both sides later agreed to withdraw their boats, diffusing some of the tension.

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“I hope this [situation] will not appear again and again, allowing bilateral relations to return to the track of normal development,” Xinhua quoted Xi as telling the special envoy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III at a trade fair in southern China on Friday.”

China-Philippine relations have encountered some difficulties. However, through effective communication between the two sides, the situation has already eased,” Xi said.

“We had a frank and candid exchange of views and I am satisfied that I was able to faithfully convey President Aquino’s message,” Roxas said in a statement issued by Secretary Edwin Lacierda, Aquino’s spokesman, who is with Roxas in China.

“The discussions were constructive and the talks were conducted in a cordial atmosphere,” Lacierda added in the statement.

The meeting, held on the sidelines of the 9th China-ASEAN Expo, focused on the “current outstanding issues between the two countries, and other dimensions of their bilateral relationship,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda, Foreign Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio and Charge d’Affaires Alex Chua of the Philippine embassy in Beijing joined Roxas in the meeting.

The talks in Nanning city came after Aquino failed to secure a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Russia earlier this month.

Xi is widely expected to succeed Hu as leader of China’s ruling Communist Party at an upcoming party meeting, then take over as president of the country in March next year.

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China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, which is believed to hold vast amounts of oil and gas, is a rich fishing ground and is home to shipping lanes vital to global trade.

But the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the sea, some of them overlapping.

China is also locked in a territorial dispute with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea, which Japan administers and calls Senkaku but China claims and knows as Diaoyu. With a report from TJ Burgonio, Inquirer

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TAGS: China, Diplomacy, dispute, Foreign Affairs and International relations, Maritime, Philippines, Scarborough Shoal, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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