China / Politics

Beijing says it would welcome a Ramos visit

By An Baijie and Deng Yanzi (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-11 08:12

Ex-president of Philippines now midway through 'ice-breaking' Hong Kong trip. Beijing is looking forward to former Philippine president Fidel Ramos' visiting China as a special envoy and wants him to come as soon as possible, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday, the third day of the former leader's "ice-breaking trip" to Hong Kong.

Beijing says it would welcome a Ramos visit

Hua Chunying

"China sticks to an open attitude toward all means of contact between China and the Philippines, and welcomes Mr Ramos to China," Hua said.

The spokeswoman called on the two sides to make joint efforts to improve bilateral ties, restore dialogue and cooperation, and push forward the healthy and stable development of China-Philippines ties.

Ramos, 88, started a five-day trip to Hong Kong on Monday. He said he would meet "old friends" with links to officials in Beijing.

Ramos told reporters on Tuesday that he planned to meet with Wu Shicun, who heads the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, a think tank on Hainan Island. He gave no other details of his itinerary.

Ramos defined the trip as "ice-breaking", after bilateral ties were jeopardized by an arbitration case initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.

During Ramos' time as president from 1992 to 1998, the two countries eased tensions caused by confrontations over the Meiji Reef.

Delia Albert, former secretary of foreign affairs of the Philippines, told China Daily that she thinks the relationship could make progress with the meetings in Hong Kong.

"I'm very happy to see Ramos visiting Hong Kong, because he has many good friends there and he is also the main promoter of the Boao Forum. More contact is very good," she said.

Richard Heydarian, assistant professor of political science at Manila-based De La Salle University, said the Philippines is looking for investments from China for its domestic development, but the current relationship is "extremely toxic".

This visit "hopefully brings some normalization to it", he said.

Chen Qinghong, a researcher in Southeast Asian and Philippine studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, said that China and the Philippines can start communications on some easier topics first to create an atmosphere for dialogue on sensitive issues.

However, he added that China's stance on sovereignty will not be changed, since sovereignty is not a kind of commodity to trade.

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