President Aquino hopes visit will ease Spratlys row | Global News

President Aquino hopes visit will ease Spratlys row

President Benigno Aquino III left Tuesday night for a state visit to China with the hope that he and Chinese President Hu Jintao would be able to ease the tension between Manila and Beijing over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“President Hu and I will meet to resolve the controversies in the West Philippine Sea,” Mr. Aquino said in his speech before he boarded a special Philippine Airlines flight to Beijing after 6 p.m.

The biggest irritant in the relations is the spat over the Spratly Islands, where the Philippines has embarked on oil and gas exploration in what Beijing considers its territory.


Early this year, Manila accused Beijing of harassing its oil survey ship, and Beijing said that recent construction work by Philippine troops on an island claimed by Manila violates the spirit of a preliminary agreement reached last month with other Southeast Asian nations.


Mr. Aquino said ahead of the visit that both countries want to resolve the dispute peacefully.

“It is said that there are couples who have been together for 50 years and they are still getting to know each other,” he told Chinese media last week. “So perhaps the conflicts provide an opportunity also to have the test that makes for a stronger relationship.”

Mr. Aquino said that he and the Chinese leader would also witness the signing of key agreements on trade, infrastructure, media exchange and economic and cultural matters.

Mr. Aquino said China was an important neighbor and that Manila was giving value and was taking care of its ties and cooperation with Beijing.

“And like in other trips we took before, we will tell China that we have a different Philippines now—more organized, more bent on putting up reforms and it has a better investment climate,” he said.

Among the agreements to be firmed up during the President’s visit include one that will see both nations eventually setting up a West Philippine Sea roll-on, roll-off system to ensure the smooth transport of goods between them, Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas said. With a report from AP

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TAGS: Chinese President Hu Jintao, President Benigno Aquino III, Spratly Islands, Spratlys, West Philippine Sea

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