PH to China: Let’s start with things we can agree on
The government wants discussions with China over the South China Sea dispute to start with things both countries can agree on, and not lead off with an adversarial tone, Malacañang said yesterday.
The Palace also said it was not rushing the talks, to be led by former President Fidel Ramos.
The country’s next steps after its arbitral court victory over China in the South China Sea dispute were discussed during a National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Wednesday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that during the NSC meeting, suggestions were made on how Ramos could handle talks with China.
“They’re not necessarily instructions but these are, I suppose, principles of wisdom about how to go about the conversation, that you know, they can start with things that you can agree on and not necessarily begin from an adversarial or insistent position. So basically, it’s a very diplomatic route,” Abella said in a press briefing.
Asked if the discussions would touch on the arbitral tribunal ruling, which China had rejected, he said that if circumstances allow, “then they will talk about what they can talk about.”
Foundation for talks
He earlier said that the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will be used as the foundation for the Philippines’ discussions with China.
As to when Ramos’ mission to China would begin, Abella said the government was not in a rush and was preparing a “package” for it.
“They’re taking the time to put together… the package,” he said. “We’re not really rushing into this.”
Abella said former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan would be Ramos’ backup if the former President would not be available.
On Thursday, President Duterte said he was taking the advice of his predecessors on how to handle talks with China.
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo advised caution, while former President Joseph Estrada called for restraint. Former President Benigno Aquino III said essentially the same thing.
Mr. Duterte said he would be careful in handling the matter and would let Ramos “navigate the course.” TVJ
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