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China downplays Ramos remarks on economy: Pay attention to DTI chief

Former President Fidel Ramos said that the Philippines can go on an "economic war" with China on a tiny scale in response to its activities in the South China Sea. AP/Ng Han Guan, file

MANILA, Philippines — The public should pay more attention to the recent remarks of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez regarding Philippines-China economic ties instead of former President Fidel Ramos, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

This follows reports that Ramos said that the Philippines can afford an "economic war" with China in response to its activities in the South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that the two countries have conducted cooperation in various fields since their relationship "turned around last year."

"In this regard, I hope you will pay more attention to the recent remark of Secretary Ramon Lopez of Trade and Industry of the Philippines that the Philippine economy has gained from economic and trade cooperation with China," Geng said in a press briefing on Wednesday

In an interview with ANC's Headstart earlier this week, Ramos said that the economic war with China on a very small basis could be in the form of promoting "what we can manufacture better than China."

"If we are talking about war on a tiny scale, maybe more on economics than anything else, yes we can go to war because it’s a reciprocal thing," Ramos said.

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Beijing, however, stressed that both President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed on adhering to "good-neighborliness" and proper settlement of differences.

"We hope all those who insightfully focus on the overall relationship and common interests between China and the Philippines can contribute to the friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries," Geng said.

The relationship between the Philippines and China has been hostile following the Scarborough Shoal standoff in 2012.

In 2013, the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China's nine-dash line over the disputed South China Sea. Last year, the United Nations-backed tribunal issued an award favoring Manila, invalidating Beijing's historic claim.

The Duterte administration, however, decided to set aside the arbitral ruling and said that it will be raised at an appropriate time.

RELATED: Blatant gaps seen in Duterte's South China Sea policy

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