PH eyes warmer relations with China despite Hu’s call for maritime buildup — Palace

Posted on November 8, 2012

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MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday steered clear of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s call for China to assert its maritime power, but hoped for warmer relations with China under a new leader.

“We know that they are superpower. As to the details of that, we would let the DFA answer that first,” Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, said in a briefing.

In opening the 9th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Hu called for the enhancement of the country’s capability to exploit marine resources, safeguard its maritime right and interests, and build China into a maritime power.

The Philippines has been locked in a dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea or parts of the South China Sea, which China is claiming in entirety. The Philippines has been seeking diplomatic, legal and political means to peacefully resolve this.

Lacierda, however, said Manila has been hoping for warmer relations with Beijing under Xi Jinping, the Chinese vice president expected to be the next leader. He said Philippine officials should wait at least year to see how relations with Beiijing would proceed under Xi.

“Let’s wait and see. We certainly hope for a warming of the relations, but let’s wait and see for them to settle down. I think, it takes a year for the whole transition to be effected. So let’s just wait and see. It’s too early to say,” he said.

In late October, President Aquino met with Chinese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Fu Ying amid a stalemate over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea.

Philippine and Chinese vessels faced off at the Panatag Shoal, a group of coral and rock formations in the South China Sea, in April.

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast amounts of oil and gas and is one of the region’s most important fishing grounds and home to shipping lanes that are vital to global trade. The Philippines, Brunei Malaysia and Vietnam, and Taiwan claim parts of the sea.

Days before Fu’s visit, the President said there was a “little bettering of situation” with Beijing over the shoal but was far from normal. He hoped the relations would be “warmed up” during the transition of Chinese leadership.

Both the Philippines and China have dispatched envoys in recent months to break the impasse over the shoal.

After failing to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Russia early September, Mr. Aquino later sent Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II to meet with Chinese leader-in-waiting Vice President Xi. / INQUIRER

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