Identities of the abductors are still unknown
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines is looking forward to a new year with less tension and better relations with China as long as the latter respects the territorial sovereignty of the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday, December 27.
"China is an important neighbor and an important partner in the region and we would like to continue with our positive relations with China and also move forward all our aspects of cooperation with that country," DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez told reporters.
However, Hernandez stressed that Beijing must respect Philippine territorial sovereignty.
"We are asking China to reconsider its position regarding the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea] and be able to come with us to resolve this dispute peacefully in accordance with international law," he said.
Hernandez explained that in dealing with the South China Sea issue, the DFA will continue to pursue its "3-track" approach:
Asked about the confirmation of the appointment of former DFA Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio as new Ambassador to China, Hernandez said that Basilio will protect Philippine interests in Bejing.
"We are hoping that Ambassador Basilio will be able to further enhance our relationship with China and promote our bilateral relations with that important country in this region."
Both countries should move forward their relationship on all levels "while we abstract the contentious issues" like the West Philippine Sea, he added.
Hernandez was also requested to comment on a report by a Chinese-language newspaper that China plans to invest over US$1 billion to build an airport and other infrastructure on and around Sansha, the Chinese city which enforces Beijing's policy over the South China Sea although its authority is not recognized by other claimant countries, among them the Philippines.
"This action of China will not gain validity for China," he said. - Rappler.com