Grace Poe: Let's pursue other ties with China
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday, November 25, said she would pursue the Philippines' other ties with China and look beyond its maritime dispute with the Asian giant.
While Poe said she would continue the arbitration case before a UN-backed tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, she emphasized the need to nurture other aspects of Philippines-China relations.
In a presidential forum organized by Filipino alumni of American schools such as Harvard, Kellog, and Wharton, Poe said the Philippines should “pursue cooperation, equality, and amity” with other nations including China.
“China has been a long time trade partner of the Philippines. We have other relations with China that go beyond political – economic, education ties, cultural ties. And I believe in pursuing these ties with China we can help each other,” Poe said during the question and answer portion of the forum.
Poe cited the presence of Chinese leaders including President Xi Jingping in the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila as a good sign from the Asian giant.
“I think they reached out. The mere fact [that] they were present in our APEC summit is already a message, they even mentioned how one of the leaders would want to possibly visit the country when they retire,” Poe said.
Poe batted for a multilateral diplomatic approach to the dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). She proposed the involvement of other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
China, however, is firm in its stand that the issue is bilateral and that any effort to resolve it should involve just the two countries.
"But with China, we should continue our arbitration case with them under the UNCLOS but engage other ASEAN [countries] for constructive dialogue and to see how we can uphold the rule of law especially when it comes to our territorial water," Poe added.
In the recent ASEAN meeting in Malaysia over the weekend, President Benigno Aquino III took the opportunity to rally Southeast Asian leaders to stand against China’s aggression in the South China Sea.
Aquino criticized China's “unilateral actions” including its massive reclamation, and building of military facilities in disputed reefs and shoals in the disputed waters. Aquino said Beijing's acts have “urgent and far-reaching implications to the region and the international community.”
“We believe that, as a rules-based Community, ASEAN should not allow any country, no matter how powerful, to claim an entire sea as its own and to use force or the threat thereof in asserting such a claim,” Aquino told his fellow ASEAN leaders in his intervention.
On Tuesday, November 24, the Philippine team presented its arguments at the start of the Hague hearing on the merits of its case against China. (READ: PH in the Hague: China robs us of right to fish) – Rappler.com
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