Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on Wednesday approved of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte’s intention to improve the strained Sino-Philippine relations through possible bilateral talks over the
South China Sea row.
“We’re glad that the president-elect has already opened the option for direct bilateral negotiation talks and we welcome that. It has always been
to settle our disputes and differences through bilateral channels,” Zhao told
reporters on the sidelines of the handover ceremony of donations at the
University of the Philippines Diliman in . Quezon
”We are looking forward to work with the incoming president and his team to explore the possibility of returning to bilateral talks over disputes we have,” he added.
The Chinese diplomat noted that the president-elect also has the same stance when it comes to “properly” handling the issue of
South China Sea.
This involves a peaceful dialogue with no confrontation, he noted.
Zhao expressed confidence in the upcoming administration to alleviate tensions and improve relations between
and the ,
as he acclaimed Duterte for being a man of principles. Philippines
“My impression is that the president-elect is a very strong man, a man with principle, and the type of leadership that you would like to work with to improve our bilateral relationship,” said the ambassador.
Manila-Beijing ties have been somewhat muddled due to maritime disputes with a pending arbitration case the
brought to the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands
in 2013 against China’s
territorial claims in the South China Sea. The
ruling is expected soon.
Duterte earlier said that he will consider holding direct talks with
if the multilateral approach remains stalled after two years. China
Commenting on this two-year time frame, Zhao said that 2 years is too long and quoted Chairman Mao Zedong to “seize the moment, seize the hour.”