By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral, Reporter

Chinese foreign ministry affirms anew ties with PHL under Duterte

Posted on July 29, 2017

CHINA’s top diplomat conveyed his “staunch” support for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s decision to chart an independent foreign policy during the two officials’ meeting at Malacañang early this week, Beijing’s foreign ministry said.

During the Aquino administration, which brought the arbitral case on the widely contested South China Sea to The Hague, Wang Yi described Beijing’s ties with Manila as having become a “dead knot.” AFP
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi visited the Philippines on Tuesday, a week before his scheduled return to Manila for a meeting of foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its dialogue partners, which include China and its strategic rival the United States.

According to China’s foreign ministry, Mr. Wang, who met the Philippine leader at the presidential palace, hailed Mr. Duterte’s foreign policy, which highlights Manila’s move to distance from traditional ally, the US, while forging closer ties with Russia and China.

“Wang... reiterated that China staunchly endorses the Philippines to pursue independent diplomatic policies and walk along the development road in line with the national conditions of the country,” Beijing’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Wang Yi expressed that... China-Philippines relations have achieved the overall turnaround with full recovery of exchanges in various fields and vigorous implementation of practical cooperation within a short period of over six months,” it added.

Taking office shortly before an international tribunal ruled in favor of Manila’s claims on the widely contested South China Seaa, Mr. Duterte sought warmer ties with China while aiming to draw in billions of dollars in Chinese aid and investment.

He has set aside the landmark decision and vowed to revisit it later in his term.

Mr. Duterte also hit back at critics of his apparent refusal to pressure Beijing to comply with the international court’s verdict and claimed that China threatened war when he asserted the Philippines’ rights to drill for oil in the resource-rich waterway.

“The sharp contrast before and after the improvement of China-Philippines relations shows the way neighbors should behave to each other with fact. That is dialogue outweighs confrontation, and cooperation is better than friction,” the Chinese foreign ministry also said.

It will be recalled that Mr. Wang, during the Aquino administration, which brought the arbitral case to The Hague, then described Beijing’s ties with Manila as having become a “dead knot.”

In a news conference this week, Mr. Wang, in an apparent swipe to Washington, urged the 10-member ASEAN to “say no” to non-regional forces trying to interfere in the maritime row, which also involved other ASEAN countries besides the Philippines.

While the US is not a claimant nation and maintains it takes no sides in the territorial conflict, it has condemned what it qualified as China’s “militarization” of the sea and has repeatedly sent warships in waters near reefs controlled by Beijing.

For his part, Mr. Duterte, according to Chinese foreign ministry, thanked Mr. Wang for Beijing’s assistance in the Philippines’ counter-terrorism efforts amid a security crisis in the southern Philippine city of Marawi where US-backed troops are fighting militants loyal to the Islamic State.