China, Philippines are keeping up important exchanges ‘behind the scenes’ to fix frayed ties — New Study Says South China Sea Fisheries “On The Verge of Collapse.”

New Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte’s inauguration provides chance to repair strained relations, says China’s deputy foreign minister

By Liu Zhen
South China Morning Post

Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 4:56 p.m.
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Protesters in the Philippines hold up signs that read, “Hands Off PH!” during a protest over the South China Sea disputes outside the Chinese consulate in Makati City, Manila. Photo: Reuters
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China and the Philippines have retained “important backstage” contacts to improve bilateral ties affected by the South China Sea dispute, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday.

The inauguration of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte two months ago was an opportunity for the two sides to repair their relationship, which had been damaged by the Philippines initiating international arbitration on the South China Sea, according to China’s deputy foreign minister Liu Zhenmin.

 China is keeping open both official and “behind-the-scenes” contacts with the Philippines, whose President Rodrigo Duterte is seen in this file photo. Photo: EPA

“Apart from the publicly reported contacts such as the Hong Kong trip by ex-president [Fidel] Ramos to meet his old Chinese friends, there have been important exchanges behind the scenes,” Liu told a news briefing in Beijing.

 China’s deputy foreign minister Liu Zhenmin. Photo: EPA

“The Chinese ambassador to the Philippines is also in close contact with [Philippines] President Duterte himself, his team and his foreign ministry.”

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PLA Air Force H-6 Bomber over Scarborough Shoal. Xinhua photo

Liu said such exchanges could bring the South China Sea dispute back on track to be properly resolved through bilateral dialogue.

 Former Philippine president Fidel Ramos in Hong Kong. Photo: David Wong

Former Philippine president Ramos visited Hong Kong as a special envoy of Duterte last month.

Ramos said he met “old friends” that had “links with President Xi Jinping”, to mend fences between Beijing and Manila.

Liu was speaking at a press conference on a trip by Premier Li Keqiang to Laos next week for an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2011743/beijing-manila-continue-important-exchanges-behind

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DUTERTE AND CHINA. President Rodrigo Duterte meets Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at Malacañang Palace in July 2016. File photo from Presidential Photographers Division

DUTERTE AND CHINA. President Rodrigo Duterte meets Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at Malacañang Palace in July 2016. File photo from Presidential Photographers Division

In this Aug. 17, 2016 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte chats with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua at the 115th anniversary of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame.PPD/Toto Lozano

President Rodrigo R. Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua

President Rodrigo R. Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua during the celebration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on August 29. KING RODRIGUEZ/PPD

Peace the only way to go, Rody tells China envoy

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By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:46 AM August 30th, 2016

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WE’RE your brothers, not your foes.

President Duterte on Monday conveyed this message to Beijing as he reiterated that any bilateral talks between China and the Philippines on their contrasting territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea should be guided by the ruling of the international arbitral court.
Mr. Duterte also urged China to consider the situation of poor Filipino fishermen who had been barred by Chinese coast guard from entering their traditional fishing grounds in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Speaking at the National Heroes’ Day celebration in Taguig City, the President said the Philippines was not ready to go into war with China, stressing that “peace is the only way” in resolving the two nations’ territorial dispute.

“I hope that you will treat us as your brothers, not your enemies. And take note of the plight of our citizens,” he said, directly addressing Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua who was among the guests at the ceremony.

“The Chinese people, this time, might find a place in their hearts for Filipinos. After all … there’s Chinese blood in me,” he continued. “(The Filipino fishermen) are there because they are poor.”

‘Dynamics’

Mr. Duterte also said he understood the “dynamics” of China’s political system but insisted that the judgment rendered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea, should be considered in any negotiation.

“But for now, Mr. Ambassador, I want to just talk to you for the moment. Maybe give us time to build our forces also. You have so much superiority,” he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd.

In July, the UN-backed tribunal ruled that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea and that it had breached Philippine sovereignty by endangering its ships and fishing and oil projects in the energy-rich waters.

China claims more than 90 percent of the South China Sea, an area which accounts for more than a tenth of global fisheries production and is also claimed in part by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

In an interview after the event, Zhao maintained that China would not honor the decision of the arbitral court, which also ruled that Beijing’s “nine-dash line” had “no legal basis.”

“Our position [is] that we cannot accept the arbitration award, but we do look forward to talk to the Philippines bilaterally over the topics that we have,” the ambassador told reporters.

Read: WHAT WENT BEFORE

“Right now, we need to change our focus … from differences to common interests so that we can concentrate on cooperation that would benefit our two peoples,” he said.

‘Soft landing’

Asked if China would allow Filipino fishermen to enter the disputed waters now guarded by its Coast Guard, Zhao said: “I do not know the situation on the sea, [but] we are looking on the possibility.”

“We will talk diplomatic matters [that] contribute to the well-being of our two peoples. So don’t worry,” he added. “We are looking into the possibility [on] how we [should] handle it.”

In his speech, the President said the two countries should come together in looking for a “soft landing” in dealing with their territorial problem.

Silent for now

“I’ll keep silent [for] now … I will never bring the matter because it might lead only to the suspension of the talks with China and that is not good, Mr. Ambassador,” he told Zhao.

“I will not use the arbitral (ruling) now, but I would, one day, sit in front of your representative or you and then I will lay bare my position. And I would say that … ‘I cannot get out of the four corners of this … arbitral judgment,’”

Mr. Duterte said.

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/143425/peace-the-only-way-to-go-rody-tells-china-envoy#ixzz4IuUwx259
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Vietnam fishing boat — A fishing boat from Quang Ngai province with six sailors on board was sunk by Chinese vessels on  while fishing near the Paracel (Hoang Sa) Islands, on or about 10 July 2016. Than Nien photo

China has a record of treating Vietnamese fishermen (and Filipino fishermen) with contempt and violence.

Sinocentrism (中華思想) Criticized — “Chinese have a casual Disregard for Vietnamese and Filipinos as Human Beings”

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