Chinese ambassador wants 'new chapter' with Philippines after sea row ruling

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — China wants a "new chapter" with the Philippines regardless of the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations on the South China Sea case, a Chinese diplomat said.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jinhua said that the two countries should focus on "areas that we can benefit."

"Of course, we have differences. We hope that we can handle it properly and we should not let the focus be these differences," Zhao told members of the press on the sidelines of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the European Union-Philippines relationship.

The Chinese diplomat added that China and the Philippines should instead focus on its bilateral relationship.

Zhao cited that China was able to resolve its territorial disputes with Russia and Vietnam through bilateral dialogue and negotiation.

"It did take a very long time for China and Vietnam to reach an agreement over land border, with Russia nearly half a century but these are treaties. They are binding," Zhao said.

Zhao added that the Philippines and China should not have a conflict with each other as they are friends, neighbors and partners.

"I hope that we can be wise enough, be patient enough to continue or to resume the bilateral talk so that we can find a solution that is agreeable to both sides," the Chinese diplomat said.

The Chinese diplomat noted that he is willing to personally meet with the next Philippine president to improve the relationship between the two nations.

"We have been following the remarks of the candidates. I think almost all of them emphasized their willingness to talk with China. They are willing to develop the economic and trade relations with China so let's see," Zhao said.

The international tribunal is expected to issue its ruling on the case of the Philippines against China this month. China has for the past years repeatedly stated its position that it would not be participating in the proceedings as it does not accept the arbitration.

The Philippines, meanwhile, will hold its general elections on Monday.

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