China to PH: Let's meet halfway on dispute

by Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2012 09:47 PM | Updated as of Jun 14 2012 09:03 PM

PNoy vows to uphold PH territory

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - China reiterated its commitment to have its territorial dispute with the Philippines resolved peacefully and diplomatically, reaffirming the deeply rooted friendship between the Philippines and China that spans centuries.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing said both sides “should demonstrate political wisdom to meet each other halfway” to resolve the dispute in the South China Sea.

Pres. Aquino shakes hands with Ambassador Ma
“Well said as it is, ‘There is no perfect friendship,’ we should face up to the existing disputes over the South China Sea with sincerity and rationality. The Chinese side has been all along committed to addressing the dispute-related issues through diplomatic means. So long as the two sides always proceed from the overall interest of maintaining friendly relationship and cooperation between our two countries and act in the spirit of mutual trust and goodwill, the issues are bound to be handled in an appropriate manner,” Ma said in her speech during the joint celebration of the 114th Philippine Sea, 37th anniversary of the Philippine-China diplomatic relations, and Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day.
President Aquino was also present in the event, organized by the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII).
“As for the current incident, we should work together for securing the momentum of getting the situation eased. Adhering to diplomatic dialogue, both sides should demonstrate political wisdom to meet each other halfway. Only in this way can we remove the obstacles in the way of the endeavor to restore amity between our two peoples and bring tangible benefits to our two countries,” she said.

Ma noted that there was never a time in history when war was waged between China and the Philippines and asked the current and future generations to keep this friendship.

"War or conflict can never be found in the history of China-Philippine relations, which rather features harmonious exchanges, mutual understanding and deep integration. Therefore, the torch of China-Philippines time-honored friendship should by all means be cherished by this generation and relayed to many generations to come. The trend of our times has been characterized by peace, development, and cooperation. As the beneficiaries of this historic trend, our two countries have been enjoying fast growth for decades, thanks to the regional peace and stability," Ma said.

"China has been and will always be committed to a deepened friendship and enhanced cooperation with the Philippines. Strenuous efforts have been made to this end," she added.

Ma also read a message of Chinese President Hu Jintao addressed to President Aquino, congratulating the President and the Filipino on this occasion.
Hu said China is ready to work with the Philippines to resolve differences “on the basis of mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit and bring greater benefits to our two peoples.”
“The Chinese side values this traditional friendship with the Philippines and stands ready to work with the Philippine side to focus on the present while taking a long-term perspective, overcome difficulties, and remove disturbances so as to realize lasting, sound and stable development of the relationship between China and the Philippines on the basis of mutual respect, equality, and mutual benefit and bring greater benefits to our two peoples,” Hu said. 
“May the Republic of the Philippine enjoy prosperity and its people well-being!” Hu said.

Momentum to resolve standoff
In his speech, President Aquino said there is already “momentum” in efforts to resolve the current standoff involving Scarborough Shoal and the momentum should be maintained.
But the President reiterated his duty to defend the Constitution and uphold Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Both the Philippines and China are exerting efforts to resolve the situation peacefully through diplomatic means. However, I must emphasize that I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic. The extent of our territory and maritime zones are clearly defined by Philippine laws and international law, specifically the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As a member of the international community, we owe each other mutual respect of our respective sovereignty under international law,” Aquino said.
“Recently, we have gained momentum towards resolving this dispute and I think that China agrees that we must maintain this momentum. After all, our countries both recognize that peace and stability in the region will redound to benefits not only to us but also to the rest of the world. Consequently, tensions within it affect the entire global community. But today as we celebrate the 11th Filipino Chinese Friendship Day, we are reminded of the fact the promise of mutual prosperity remains within our grasp,” he added.
During the same event, the President witnessed the symbolic turnover of 400 housing resettlement units donated by the FFCCCII and the Filipino-Chinese community for the victims of typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City. The housing area will be called the “Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day.”
A P2 million check was also turned over the FFCCCII to the PNP Foundation Inc. to support its various programs. It is the last part of the P5 million pledged donation of the group.
The President thanked the Chinese Filipino community for its contributions, citing the heroism of patriots with Chinese blood such as Jose Igancio Paua and Vicente Lim to the Chinese Filipino fire volunteers of the present.