China hopes PH steers towards bringing bilateral ties back on track | Global News

China hopes PH steers towards bringing bilateral ties back on track

/ 07:42 AM January 18, 2024

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian. (INQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — At a crossroads in its foreign relations, China hopes the Philippine government will steer towards bringing bilateral ties back on track, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said on Wednesday.

In his speech before media workers invited to the Chinese Embassy’s year-end party, Huang said that it would be necessary for both sides to consider the fate of the Chinese and Filipino people — and not the interests of a few or some small groups.

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“Our relations now stand at a crossroads as stated by our foreign minister Wang Yi, facing a choice of where to go from here, we need to make a good choice. We believe maintaining the sound and steady developments of our relations serve the fundamental interest of the two countries, the two peoples — not self-vested interests or a small group’s interests, but the overall interest of our two peoples,” Huang said.

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“So it is hoped that the Philippine friends, the Philippine side will steer [towards] the right course, for its policy vis à vis China and work together with us to bring the bilateral relations back on the track, on the right track as soon as possible.”

Huang also touched briefly on the maritime dispute between the two countries.

“It’s normal for neighboring countries to have differences, what is crucial is that differences should be handled through consultation and this is not only a proven way to get along with neighboring countries, but also a useful experience from the turnaround of our relations for the past few years,” he said.

“And history has amply proved that when the two countries manage their differences in a mature and constructive manner, the road of our cooperation and relations opens, widens. But when differences are magnified and conflicts created, the relations might be deeply bogged down in trouble.”

Huang hopes both countries can learn from the issues and go beyond disputes as the ties do not end on these issues.

“We need to learn from the lessons, and the two heads-of-state have affirmed, reaffirmed on different occasions that maritime issues are not the entirety of our relations and should be properly handled through friendly consultations,” he said.

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“We all hope that the Philippines will meet China halfway, manage maritime differences properly through dialogue and consultation, and jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and the sound development of bilateral relations.”

China enjoyed good ties with the Philippines during the term of then-President Rodrigo Duterte. However, observers have noted recently that Manila and Beijing are at odds again, with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. making a stand against losing any territory in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

While Marcos maintained that the Philippines remained a friend to all and an enemy to none, it was noted that his administration renewed ties with the United States by allowing the establishment of new Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites — a move that China frowned at.

However, these moves have resulted in higher tensions in the West Philippine Sea, with Philippine Coast Guard vessels either being water cannoned, laser-pointed, or rammed by their Chinese counterparts.

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During his trip to Japan last December, Marcos said that his administration would uphold peace and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea amid the rising tensions.

TAGS: Huang Xilian, maritime dispute, PH-China Relations, West Philippine Sea

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