Philippine-China working to improve 'frayed relations'-A A +A
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
MANILA -- Philippines and China are working to re-establish "frayed relations" despite a deadlock over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea, a senior Philippine official said Tuesday.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II said that during his meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in China over the weekend, both countries have reasserted sovereignty claim on Panatag Shoal.
"It has been assessed by both sides that the face-to-face meeting and the messages to the leaders would restore some of the goodwill that may have been frayed over the last several months," he said.
Roxas said that although the two nations remain deadlocked over the resource-rich shoal, he is satisfied that he was able to "frankly and candidly" convey to China the views of President Benigno Aquino III.
He described the 45-minute meeting with Xi as "cordial."
Roxas said that while both sides felt that discussion on China territorial dispute would not lead to anything, the two nations expressed desire to find common ground particularly in reviving the other facets of bilateral relationship with China, such as, in culture, trade and investments.
The Interior official said Philippines and China also talked about the strains in the world economy and how Asean, East Asian economies and nations ought to be prepared and work together to minimize the results of these weaknesses in the world economy.
Trade and tourism have also been discussed in the meeting as well as the conflicts in the North Rail contract and the investment by the Chinese State Grid Corporation in National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, Roxas said.
As a testament of China's commitment to mend ties with neighbour countries, Roxas read a note in Xi's speech during the China-Asean trade fair, which says: "We are firm in safeguarding China's sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity and are committed to resolving differences with neighbors concerning territorial land, territorial sea, and maritime rights and interests peacefully through friendly negotiations."
"So despite these divergent starting points—Philippine side and China side—both sides expressed their sincere desire to prevent further deterioration in our bilateral relations," Roxas noted.
He said more works are needed to be done concerning the Panatag shoal.
As part of continuous talks, he said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was invited by Vice Minister Fu Ying sometime next month.
After his meeting with Xi, Roxas said he also met with Vice Minister Fu Ying of the Chinese DFA where they discussed the North Rail Project.
He said he reiterated to Fu that the contract with China will not push through anymore because it did not comply with the procurement law.
With the scrapping of the contract, the government will be paying China about $500 million over the next two years.
"We have the money to pay for this. According to Finance Secretary (Cesar) Purisima, the negotiations already started on how to pay for the loan in instalments over the next two years," he said. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)