Palace: China’s investments won’t deter PHL from pursuing arbitration case

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

CHINESE trade and investments in the Philippines could not stop the Aquino government to pursue its arbitration case before an international court in connection with the territorial dispute between the two countries in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a Palace official said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that Manila and Beijing have different levels of exchange.

"You see different levels of exchange but that doesn't mean that just because China is investing in this country, it shouldn't stop us from asserting or filing an arbitration case against them when it comes to our EEZ (exclusive economic zone). So, there are different levels of exchange between us and so our levels of exchange...with (the) exception of the arbitration case, have been very positive with China1 And for that reason, we can continue to engage China on those levels," he said in a regular press briefing.

He also cited the case of the United States and China, which have robust trade between themselves even if America is accusing some Chinese officials for violations of its cyber security.

During the celebration of the 13th Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day on Tuesday wherein Aquino was also present, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, in his speech, cited that China was one of the largest trading partners of the Philippines and even one of the top sources of tourists.

The Chinese envoy also cited China's huge contribution on the economies of the member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

But in the same speech, Zhao said, "Compared with our thousand-year-old friendship and extensive cooperation, the difficulties we are facing on South China Sea are temporary."

He emphasized that it is the two countries' common responsibility to handle the issue "in a proper and peaceful manner".

Lacierda said Malacanang welcomed Zhao statement that the dispute in the West Philippine Sea is only "temporary".

"We certainly welcome the change of tone; one that would foster understanding between China and the Philippines when it comes to the South China Sea," he said.

"The Chinese government has always attached great importance to its relationship with the Philippines, and I believe that we have the wisdom, the patience, and the courage to settle the disputes through negotiations and consultations," he said.

Lacierda noted that the Philippines has "always resorted to diplomatic means" to resolve the dispute with China.

"We have deliberately de-escalated our rhetoric when it comes to the South China Sea," Lacierda noted. "It is certainly a welcome change for us to hear the Chinese ambassador speaking in a more friendly tone."

Manila and Beijing are locked in a territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea. (SDR/Sunnex)

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