MANILA (Mabuhay) – China has expressed willingness to work with the Duterte administration to improve its bilateral ties with the Philippines marred by a simmering territorial dispute involving the West Philippine Sea.
In a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying stressed that improving bilateral ties between the two countries would provide opportunity to realize common development.
“The Chinese side is willing to make joint efforts toward that end with the new government of the Philippines,” Hua said.
Hua did not mention the territorial dispute, but said the Chinese government believes that “it is in the fundamental interests of both China and the Philippines and in the shared anticipation of the two peoples to handle related issues properly and to bring the bilateral relations back on track of sound and stable development.”
“China has always pursued a foreign policy of building good neighborly relationships and partnerships with its neighboring countries including the Philippines,” Hua said.
Duterte, who won by a landslide in the May 9 elections, had earlier said that the Philippines under his administration would not engage in war with China, saying doing so would only result in a “massacre.”
The Philippines in 2014 filed an arbitration case against China contesting Beijing’s massive claim over the resource-rich South China Sea, and is expecting a ruling within the year. China has refused to participate in the legal proceedings, insisting instead of bilateral talks.
A maritime standoff with China in the Philippine-claimed Scarborough Shoal in 2012, which resulted in the shoal falling under Chinese control, prompted the government of Benigno Aquino III to finally seek arbitration.
Duterte earlier said he is open to having bilateral talks with China if the current multilateral efforts to resolve the dispute fails. (MNS)