CHINA hopes to have a “new chapter” with the Philippines whoever gets elected after the elections on Monday, a Chinese senior diplomat said.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said he wants the new administration to improve the ties of the two countries whose relationship went to its lowest point over a sea dispute.
With the new chapter, Zhao means that the Philippines and China will have a bilateral relationship that focuses on areas of common interest, economic, financial, trade cooperation, tourism and people-to-people context that both countries can benefit from.
“Of course, we have differences. We hope that we can handle it properly and we should not let these differences be the focus of our relationship” Zhao told members of the diplomatic press on the sidelines of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the European Union-Philippines relationship on Thursday night.
He also said that the relationship of the Philippines and China should not be affected by the upcoming ruling of the international tribunal later this month or in June.
Manila filed a memorial against Beijing before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague in 2013 to affirm its right to areas within 200 nautical miles of its coastline, under the terms of a United Nations convention.
The ambassador maintained that China will not recognize the ruling.
“We did not participate [in the court proceedings]. We will not accept and we will not implement [the decision]. That’s our position. No changing,” Zhao said.
The diplomat added that the Philippines and China should have no dispute over territories that could be settled through bilateral talks.
“Some media talks about ‘conflicts.’ I hate that word. There is no conflict between China and the Philippines. China and the Philippines are friends, neighbors, partners. We don’t fight against each other,” he said.
Zhao expressed willingness to personally meet the next Philippine president, whom he hopes will initiate the resume of bilateral talks to find a solution that is agreeable to both sides.
He noted that China was able to resolve its separate territorial disputes with Russia and Vietnam through bilateral dialogue and negotiation.
The last time the Philippines and China had a bilateral talk was during the visit of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to Beijing in 2014.