Xi, Philippine official seek to heal relations
Updated: 2012-09-22 09:08
By Wu Jiao in Nanning and Qin Zhongwei in Beijing (China Daily)
Vice-president discusses tension over Huangyan Island with envoy
Beijing on Friday urged Manila not to see "any reversal" in their bilateral ties and to ensure the ties get back on track, as Vice-President Xi Jinping met with the special envoy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III during a regional economic gathering.
It is the first time that Manila has managed to reach a Chinese top leader since bilateral ties nose-dived over the Huangyan Island issue earlier this year.
Analysts said Friday's meeting will help Manila avoid miscalculating China's stance, yet they warned Beijing about inconsistencies in Philippine policy.
Meeting Philippine Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Xi said, "President Aquino sent you as a special envoy to the China-ASEAN Expo and relays the message of developing bilateral ties".
"This shows the importance (President Aquino attaches) to China-Philippines ties", Xi said.
Relations between the countries have suffered since Manila attacked Chinese fishing vessels around Huangyan Island, which China has owned for centuries, in the South China Sea earlier this year.
Manila has insisted on claiming the island in recent decades, and has tried to magnify the dispute by playing it up on several multilateral occasions. It failed to reach Chinese top officials for a dialogue after the issue flared up.
Xi said bilateral ties have run into difficulties during that time, yet tension has eased because of effective communication on both sides.
"I hope that there will not be a repeat (of the tension), and that bilateral ties resume normal growth," said Xi.
Xi also urged the two countries to follow the consensus that the leaders of the two countries reached last year on the issue.
Roxas was quoted in the press release from that Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying that the Philippines sincerely wishes to "develop friendly, close and normal ties" with China, to build mutual trust, and to overcome the difficulties in order to preserve those ties.
Before the meeting, the Philippine Star had quoted Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda as saying officials hoped Roxas would be able to meet Xi and relay to him Aquino's message that the latter had failed to deliver to President Hu Jintao in Vladivostok, Russia, during the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
It is not clear what the details of the message are.
Lacierda said a meeting between Roxas and Xi should be viewed "in a positive light."
The meeting will help the Philippines further understand China's stance and reduce the chance of miscalculations, according to Luo Yongkun, a researcher on Southeast Asian studies at China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
Luo said although the Philippines understands the importance of reviving its relations with China, the Philippines' policy is inconsistent. For example, after Aquino visited China last year, he abandoned his promises after he returned home, he said.
"We hope their deeds could be consistent with their words," he said.
Also on Friday, Xi met with Myanmar President U Thein Sein, and said the two countries should ensure some big cooperation projects get smoothly implemented.
China will continue to encourage some Chinese enterprises to take part in Myanmar's several sectors, including the social sector, said Xi.
Myanmar, undergoing rapid reforms in social and economic sectors, last year cut off a hydropower project that had Chinese sponsors, anticipating a suspension of its ties with Beijing. Yet Myanmar leaders have on many occasions said the country values its relations with China.
U Thein Sein said Myanmar's people will never forget the substantial help the country has received from China.
Myanmar is still in a transformational period, but Myanmar attaches importance to ties with China, and there is no change in its policy of viewing China as a sincere friend, U Thein Sein said.
Yang Baojun, a scholar with Peking University, said the frequent exchanges among top leaders of the two countries show that China and Myanmar attach importance to each other.
"Both countries are making efforts to preserve the ties, as they are in real need of each other," Yang said.
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