MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang sees a "warming up of relations" between the Philippines and China with the looming transition of leadership there.
Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to step down as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China when its 18th National Congress convenes Thursday.
Current Vice President Xi Jinping is Hu's presumptive successor and is expected to be taking over the presidency in March.
It was Xi that President Aquino's special envoy Mar Roxas had met to convey the country's position on the territorial dispute.
"The arrival of Vice Foreign Fu Ying and Secretary Mar Roxas' meeting with Mr. Xi Jinping was certainly a welcome development for us. We're able to convey the President's message to the leadership of the Chinese Politburo. And also, Mr. Xi Jinping was able to convey their message to us. We hope that our relations with China would be better," Lacierda said.
Lacierda, however, stressed the territorial dispute is not the "end-all and be-all" of the country's relations with China.
"We hope to improve on all those levels of exchanges: trade, tourism, cultural exchange. And, again, like (what) we have always maintained, the issue on the West Philippine Sea is not the end-all and be-all of our relations with China," he said.