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China-Philippines cooperation depends on proper settlement of maritime disputes

English.news.cn   2011-08-31 17:33:04 FeedbackPrintRSS

BEIJING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Accompanied by over 250 entrepreneurs, Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III is expected to exploit his ongoing first state visit to China to help boost the Philippines' domestic economic growth and trade connections with China.

Over the past decade, China and the Philippines have seen a soaring growth in trade, with China becoming the latter's third largest trading partner and bilateral trade reaching 27.7 billion U.S. dollars last year.

However, it has to be acknowledged that a stable and sound relationship of the two Asian nations should be underpinned by not only strong trade ties, but also their commitments to a proper settlement of the maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

China has always made itself loud and clear that it has indisputable sovereignty over the sea's islands and surrounding waters, which is part of China's core interests. That is based on unambiguous and undeniable historical facts.

Meanwhile, Beijing is willing to follow the principle of shelving differences and seeking joint development, so as to create amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood with the Philippines.

China and all ASEAN nations also hammered out last month a set of guidelines for implementing the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Yet these policies can never be effective in maintaining regional peace and stability and solving differences had countries involved failed to embrace China's candidness and goodwill with concrete actions.

China has also repeatedly urged the Philippine side to halt its action deemed detrimental to China's maritime sovereignty and interests in the South China Sea and to cease releasing irresponsible remarks. But some Philippine politicians seem not to take China's legitimate demands seriously.

Last month, a group of Philippine lawmakers trespassed China's Zhongye Dao Island in the South China Sea and claimed it "Philippine territory."

In June, the Philippine side even accused that China's maritime scientific expeditions in its own territorial waters had infringed on the so-called Philippine sovereignty.

President Aquino said in a recent interview that he doesn't think it "redounds to anybody's interest to have conflict within these disputed areas." But he told the Philippine Congress in his annual "State of the Nation" speech late last month that the Philippines is "ready to protect" what is theirs in the South China Sea, which is China's territorial waters.

The only possible path toward figuring out the two nations' maritime problems is through trustful bilateral dialogues instead of attempting to drag any third party into the row.

As the world economic recovery remains reeling and fragile with dire prospects for a double dip recession, China and the Philippines have the opportunity and responsibility to jointly tackle the ongoing challenge.

Success of their cooperation will, to some extent, relies on whether the two Asian countries can handle their disputes in a rational and pragmatic manner.

Editor: Mo Hong'e
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