A CHINESE official has welcomed the move of President Rodrigo Duterte to send former President Fidel Ramos to Beijing to open bilateral talks.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang lauded Duterte’s effort to start diplomatic dialogues. An international arbitral tribunal earlier ruled against China’s claim in the West Philippine Sea, a decision that angered Beijing even more.
“Since taking office, President Duterte has on many occasions expressed his readiness to properly resolve the South China Sea issue with China, resume bilateral talks and improve bilateral relations,” the spokesperson said in a translated transcript issued by the ministry on Saturday.
The official maintained that China will not recognize or accept the arbitral award, saying dialogues and consultation are the only way to resolve the longstanding sea row.
“We stay committed to properly addressing issues between us through bilateral dialogue, and we have never closed the door for dialogue and consultation with the Philippines,” Lu said.
“As long as the two sides stick to dialogue and consultation, they will open up a brighter future for bilateral relations,” he added.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said there is a need for the Philippines to appoint a special envoy in Beijing who will have a different function from the ambassador.
“There is a need for special envoy to probably help us assist, maybe in reaching out on the back-channel basis in trying to resolve these disputes,” the chief diplomat said.
Philippine Ambassador to Beijing Erlinda Basilio, 71, is currently recuperating from throat problems. She recently underwent a tracheotomy – an opening surgically created through the neck into the trachea (windpipe) to allow direct access to the breathing tube.
Meanwhile, Lu said the tribunal’s ruling does not change anything.
“The so-called decision by the so-called arbitral tribunal will not affect the policy of the Chinese government on issues concerning the South China Sea,” he stressed.