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Fidel Ramos takes first steps to build trust with China

Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos listens to a question during a press briefing at the Philippines consular office in Hong Kong, China, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos flew to Hong Kong on Monday for talks aimed at rekindling ties with China that have been strained by long-seething disputes in the South China Sea. AP/Ng Han Guan

MANILA, Philippines — Former President Fidel Ramos, acting as a special envoy to China, met with his old friends in Hong Kong to discuss the relationship between the Philippines and China.

Ramos met with former Ambassador to Manila Fu Ying and China's National Institute for South China Sea Studies President Wu Shicun to discuss ways to resolve the dispute between the two countries.

"Their informal discussions focused on the need to engage in further talks to build trust and confidence to reduce tensions to pave the way for overall cooperation for the benefit of  both their peoples and the region," Ramos' press statement read.

China has welcomed Ramos in their country as special envoy appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte. The visit came two months after the arbitration tribunal released a favorable ruling for the Philippines on its claims against China on the South China Sea.

Ramos, meanwhile, expressed the desire of the Philippines to hold formal discussions with China on issues of mutual concern and interest.

"They value the long history of friendship of the two neighboring countries and the prospect of further cooperation for the sake of future generations," the statement read.

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The former president and his Chinese friends discussed the following issues:

  • Encouraging marine preservation,
  • Avoiding tension and promoting fishing cooperation,
  • Anti-drug and anti-smuggling cooperation,
  • Anti-crime and anti-corruption cooperation,
  • Improving tourism opportunities,
  • Encouraging trade and investment facilitation and
  • Encouraging track II (think tank) exchanges on relevant issues of mutual concern and interest

Both parties agreed that building trust is important to the long-term relationship between the Asian neighbors.

"They reiterated that they are here in their personal capacity and were pleased with the discussions and looked forward to the beginning of a process of formal discussions which will be continued in Beijing and Manila and other possible venues," the statement read.

The arbitral tribunal concluded that China violated the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea by constructing artificial islands in the Philippines' 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

China, however, refused to honor the decision of the arbitral tribunal and stressed its indisputable sovereignty over the disputed waters.

RELATED: China may be sued for destroying marine life

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