August 31, 2011
Philippines, China to make Spratlys 'sea of friendship'
President Benigno Aquino III and Chinese President H u J i n t a o agreed during their bilateral meeting on Wednesday to make the Spratly islands
in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) an area of "friendship and cooperation."
From Beijing, GMA News' Kara David also reported
that the two leaders clarified the Spratlys issue should be resolved at the regional level rather than bilaterally, as there are several claimants to the area.
Aquino and President H u , however, did not discuss specific mechanisms on how to resolve the territorial dispute during their meeting Wednesday, the report added.
Aquino spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in an earlier interview with the government-run Radyo ng Bayan, “the discussion between the two leaders was very frank but very cordial."
He said Aquino, who is on a four-day state visit to China, initiated the discussion about the Spratlys territorial dispute with his Chinese counterpart.
“[Aquino] mentioned that they had differences, but these differences should not deter us from moving forward. The President also mentioned the position of the Philippine side that this is a regional problem, and it requires a regional solution," Lacierda said.
The Chinese leader, on the other hand, held on to China’s position that the issue should be resolved peacefully, and that Beijing would encourage the development of the South China Sea.
“Both sides were very positive in addressing the issue of the South China Sea," Lacierda said.
He described the meeting as a "moving forward discussion between both countries," but added, “there were no discussions on specific mechanisms."
H u and Aquino also discussed the Northrail project during the meeting.
"The Northrail project needed to be reconfigured, the Chinese agreed. They attached an importance to the project. Both sides directed their officials concerned with the project to resolve the issue," Lacierda said.
He said the controversial national broadband project was not discussed.
Economic ties between the Philippines and China soured in late 2007 when several officials of the Arroyo administration got embroiled in the controversial Z T E - N B N deal, allegedly an anomalous transaction between the Philippine government and China's Z T E Corp.
Z T E was supposed to supply the infrastructure needs, supplies and equipment for the Philippines National Broadband Network, but then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had to cancel the contract after scandalous allegations of corruption became public.
Promotion of trade and investment
“What dominated the discussions primarily was the promotion of trade and investment," Lacierda said.
After the meeting, Aquino and H u witnessed the signing of these documents:ooperation agreement between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign AffairsAgreement on the assignment of a representative from the Ministry of Commerce and Investment at the China desk of the Department of Trade and IndustryA cooperation agreement between the People’s Television Network (Channel 4) and China Central TelevisionA cooperation agreement on tourismMOU for Presidential Communications Operations Office and State Council Information Office on friendly exchanges and cooperationMOU on Sports Cooperation An exchange of letters on the extension for another two years of the 14th Executive Program 2009-2011 on the implementation of the Philippine-China Cultural Agreement andAn exchange of letters on the Philippines-China Five-Year Development Program for Trade and Development Cooperation.
Earlier in the day, President Aquino wooed Chinese businessmen into investing in the Philippines which he said is now more conducive to business.