BEIJING, July 26 (PNA) — China has commended President Rodrigo Duterte for saying that the Philippines will adhere to an independent foreign policy and develop friendly relations with all countries on the basis of equality of sovereignty, mutual respect and non-interference.
”China speaks highly of that,” China’s Foreign Ministry Affairs (MFA) Spokesperson Lu Kang said when asked for comment during a regular press conference last Tuesday on President Duterte’s state of the nation address (SONA).
In his two-hour SONA last Monday, President Duterte said the Philippines has cultivated very good relations with China through bilateral talks and other mechanisms that eased tension in the South China Sea.
Lu has acknowledged Duterte’s efforts to improve and to put China-Philippines relations back on the right track since the popular Filipino leader assumed office in June last year.
”The past one year and more have seen all-around cooperation between China and the Philippines making important headways, frequent high-level visits, political mutual trust going deeper, practical cooperation demonstrating greater potential, and maritime dialogue and cooperation starting again,” Lu said.
The MFA spokesperson said the rejuvenated China-Philippines relations will bring benefits not only to Chinese and Filipino people “but also relevant countries in the region.”
Lu made this statement as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarked on a reciprocal visit to Manila on Tuesday upon invitation of his Filipino counterpart Alan Peter Cayetano who visited Beijing early this month.
”We believe that his visit will bring bilateral ties closer. China also stands ready to continue working with the Philippines to consolidate friendly cooperation and improve all aspects of China-Philippines relations,” Lu said.
Accompanied by Cayetano and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, Wang and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua had paid courtesy call on President Duterte at the Malacanang Palace.
To give way to friendly dialogues and negotiations, President Duterte has temporarily shelved an arbitral tribunal’s ruling which nullified China’s nine-dash line territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Duterte’s decision on the tribunal’s award and his two productive visits to China in October 2016 and in May this year have tremendously improved China-Philippines relations.
China has pledged USD24 billion worth of investments and infrastructure projects and normalized trade relations by lifting ban on pineapple and banana imports from the Philippines.
The two countries have also formed Bilateral Consultative Mechanism on the South China Sea. The first was meeting held in Guiyang, China last May while the next is set later this year in Manila.
Both the Philippines and China are now discussing the prospects of a joint development of the potentially oil-rich South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.
Sta. Romana had said the Philippines has basically taken a two-track approach to tackle the South China Sea disputes.
One approach, according to him, is to discuss contentious issues like sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction while another is for non-contentious issues like trade, economic, infrastructures and people-to-people exchanges.
”The non-contentious issues were frozen in the past years because the dispute has been put at the center. The basic approach now is don’t let the dispute be an obstacle to developing the non-contentious issues,” Sta. Romana explained in recent a media interview.