Outgoing Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino highlighted the importance of having mutual respect in improving bilateral relations with China.
The President said in a speech delivered at the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) that to move forward in the relations with China clouded by a maritime dispute, there must be “respect for each other.”
“For two peoples that have lived and worked near each other for centuries, our shared future can be even brighter so long as we continue to respect each other and the laws that bind us in the community of nations, and to do our part to ensure peace, stability and progress in our corner of the world,” Aquino said.
Among those present during the event hosted by FFCCCII, which marked the 118 Philippine Independence Day and the 15 Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day, was Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, who did not attend last year’s event amidst growing tensions in the West Philippine Sea.
The President acknowledged the role of FFCCCII in fostering good relations between the two countries, “whether in terms of cultural activities, trade and investment, or in the informal manner in which [it has served] as a channel of communications, given the disputes in the sea known by many names.”
Aquino’s remarks came ahead of a ruling of the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration on a case file by the Philippines against China’s 9-dash territorial claim in the West Philippines Sea.
Last week, China’s Rear Adm. Guan Youfei expressed China’s longstanding position that it will only resolve several territorial disputes through bilateral talks, and dared to ignore the ruling of the international arbitration panel.
“To put it simply, the arbitration case actually has gone beyond the jurisdiction (of a United Nations arbitration panel)” Guan said on the sidelines of an international security conference in Singapore.
China continues to refuse to participate in the arbitration and does not recognize the international court as having jurisdiction over the case, despite an earlier ruling of the court stating otherwise.
“Because the territorial and sovereignty disputes have not been subjected to the arbitration, we think the arbitration is illegal,” Guan, who is the director of the foreign affairs office of China’s national defense ministry, was quoted by reporters.
“Therefore, we do not participate in it nor accept it,” he concluded.