Solons bring woman’s touch to China row
MANILA, Philippines—Call it a woman’s touch, but the recent visit to China of a group of 12 congresswomen from the Philippines apparently moved Vice Minister Chen Fengxiang of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) to call for “more people-to-people dialogues … for the improvement of bilateral ties” between the two countries despite their competing claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“The dispute does not paint the whole picture of our relationship … We are not closing our door and our stand is not confrontational. Let’s work together for the future of our nations,” Chen said during the visit to Beijing of the all-women Philippine delegation led by Rep. Gina P. de Venecia (4th Dist., Pangasinan), president of the Association of Women Legislators Foundation Inc. (AWLFI).
The all-women delegation from the House of Representatives was in China from May 8 to 18 for a people-to-people exchange, the first visit from the Philippine government after it filed an arbitration case in the United Nations over its territorial row with China. The trip came three weeks after the visit to the Philippines of US President Barack Obama.
In his meeting with the delegation, Chen said the arbitration issue was at the heart of the disagreement between the two countries. “The move to settle our dispute through arbitration … is a great concern for us.”
De Venecia said there was need to rebuild bilateral ties between the two countries since their enduring relationship goes beyond territorial disputes. “It is no secret that the Philippines was the first nation in the world to embrace the Chinese people, as evidenced by the establishment of the very first Chinatown in Binondo, Manila, in 1594.
“And just recently, despite the sometime hurtful words our spokesmen have exchanged, China was among the first responders to save and help the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda in central Philippines.”
Aside from De Venecia, the members of the delegation were Representatives Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba, Belma A. Cabilao, Mercedes C. Cagas, Julieta R. Cortuna, Gwendolyn F. Garcia, Elisa “Olga” T. Kho, Rosenda Ann Ocampo, Leah S. Paquiz, Marie Anne S. Pernes, Josephine R. Sato and Julieta T. Uy.
De Venecia was scheduled to give a privilege speech on Monday afternoon in Congress, where she was expected to call for the resumption of bilateral talks with China and the need to settle the territorial dispute through the restoration of the “good neighbor policy” in the West Philippine Sea.
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