PHNOM PENH, Cambodia––President Benigno Aquino III on Monday called on China to show benevolence and generosity toward weaker states in the region, including the Philippines, if it hoped to sustain its economic growth in these times of uncertainty.
“As a nation that has only recently taken its first steps toward equitable progress, the Philippines looks to China to set the example of wise and peace-seeking leadership,” he said, addressing other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the Peace Palace here.
Aquino spoke before an audience that included Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during the 15th Asean-China Summit, one of the side meetings at the 21st Asean Summit hosted by the Cambodian capital.
“A China that is benevolent and generous toward its smaller neighbors can enhance stability in the region and allow each of our nations to sustain the growth we have so far experienced despite global uncertainties,” Aquino said.
“And so, as we keep avenues for positive dialogue open, so do we wish that unnecessary disruptions in our growth are avoided,” he said in an allusion to the region’s territorial disputes with China over the South China Sea, a portion of which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
Touching on the issue of maritime security, Aquino even made a reference to the United States in his remarks during the Asean-China meeting.
He cited a US offer to broaden the Asean seafarers’ training or EAST program at the first expanded Asean maritime forum hosted by Manila last month.
Aquino said the program would strengthen vessel security and build up the capability of seafarers against acts of piracy. “This is especially relevant to the Philippines since my people compose a full quarter of the entire world seafaring population,” he said.
“In an increasingly interconnected world, it is my hope that our countries continue to explore opportunities to cooperate and to strengthen our linkages to respect and reasonability with an eye on the fulfillment of our shared aspirations for humanity,” he said.