China hopes talks will improve ties with PH
(UPDATED) MANILA, Philippines - China hopes that a new round of high-level talks in Manila will help make progress in its relations with the Philippines damaged over a territorial dispute, an official said on Thursday, October 18.
"China and the Philippines are important neighbors to each other, China attaches importance to China-Philippine relations, and is willing to push forward a healthy and stable bilateral relationship," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei noted in a regular press conference, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Hong added that Beijing hopes that both countries "will move towards each other" and take "practical steps to make new progress" in their bilateral relations.
Chinese official in PH
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying arrived in Manila on Thursday, October 18, for high-level talks between China and the Philippines following the row over Scarborough Shoal that erupted 6 months ago.
The Chinese delegation led by Fu will hold talks with a Philippine delegation headed by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio, and Fu will also meet separately with DFA chief Albert del Rosario.
The talks, officially called the Foreign Ministry Consultations (FMC) between the Philippines and China, were last held in Beijing in January, 4 months before the Philippines and China escalated their territorial dispute over Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In the past few weeks, tensions have softened since Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas met Chinese Vice President and leader-in waiting Xi Jinping a month ago in Nanning, China.
Enrile meets with Fu
This will the first time that Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will meet a Chinese official since Sen Antonio Trillanes IV revealed he was acting as backdoor negotiator with China, keeping Del Rosario out of the loop.
Trillanes' revelation triggered a spat with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who chided the former rebel soldier for announcing clandestine backchannel efforts.
Enrile met on Thursday with Fu, whom he knows from the time she was ambassador to the Philippines from 1992 to 2000.
The meeting was attended by current Chinese mission chief Ma Keqing but neither Scarborough Shoal nor Trillanes -- whom Fu allegedly met during the secret talks -- were discussed, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters.
Enrile himself later said that he and Fu just "exchanged pleasantries" and talked about history. - Rappler.com