Now that the new Philippine administration has taken over, Beijing sees an opportunity to rekindle the friendship between the two nations, led by the new Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte.
China lauded Duterte’s decision to send its former president Fidel Ramos as its official emissary in a bid to renew the two nations’ friendships severed in the previous years over the South China Sea dispute. Even before winning the presidency, Duterte vowed to handle the Philippine-China tension diplomatically and signaled to enter into a bilateral agreement, even if it does not sit well with the Americans, the country’s strongest ally.
South China Sea Row
In a commentary published in state-run news website Xinhua, Ramos’ trip to Hong Kong was warmly welcomed by Chinese experts, saying the Philippines has made the right choice of sending him.
The same publication has been vocal in criticizing any anti-China sentiments and semantics targeted against the Chinese government. Hence, the positive review of the publication on Ramos’ trip was a breath of fresh air. It also slammed Aquino’s administration and how it handled the issue that resulted in the escalation of the South China Sea row into an unprecedented level.
It can be recalled that the Philippines and China were embroiled in a diplomatic deadlock in the previous administration when former president Benigno Aquino III sought a unilaterally initiated arbitration over the South China Sea row.
On Monday, the newly elected president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, sent Ramos as its official emissary to China with the main objective of initiating unilateral talks the Chinese have been pushing for. Upon assumption of office, Duterte signaled a friendlier relationship with Beijing as compared to his predecessor.
A Breath of Fresh Air
“Ramos is probably the best choice for the job of breaking ice since he is a revered statesman widely respected in his own country and in Asia. His long history of friendly exchanges with China also gives him a unique advantage in helping revive chilly bilateral ties,” the editorial reads.
Meanwhile, Ramos told Manila-based media that one of his missions is to mend the severed relationship between the two nations as he planned to meet with a friend linked in Beijing. He said he’s optimistic his trip would yield positive results for both countries, the Philippine Star reported.