China to send more aid to PH, vows not to bully smaller neighbors

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2022 06:49 PM

MANILA — China said on Monday it will be giving the Philippines additional financial support of around P800 million for areas affected by Typhoon Odette.

Chinese state councilor and foreign minister Wang Yi made the announcement of additional aid during the 5th Manila Forum for Philippines-China Relations, giving an assurance that Beijing intends to bring “cooperation and friendship” to Manila and not “colonization or war” and pursue a policy for “amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood."

“Chinese friendly interactions date back to over a millennium ago. China brings to the Philippines not colonization or war but cooperation and friendship,” he said.

China committed to helping the Philippines meet its need for COVID-19 vaccines. 

Wang said over 57 million coronavirus vaccine jabs in the Philippines came from China, saying Beijing will work with the Philippines in “developing effective medicines and building up public health capacity” to beat the virus.

Wang lauded the fast pace of both countries' bilateral cooperation under the Duterte administration and he said that China will “keep its doors open” to more Filipino agriculture products and make more investments in the Philippines.

SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE

Wang meanwhile urged that both countries' maritime disputes over the South China Sea be put “in the proper place” for an agreement to be reached and prevent it from affecting or “taking hostage the overall bilateral relationship.”

“Stressing only one side’s claims and imposing one own’s will on the other is not the proper way for neighbors to treat each other and also goes against the Oriental philosophy of how people should get along with each other,” Wang said.

“China will absolutely not use its strength to bully small countries and we never believe in the winner-takes-all approach."

Without naming other countries, Wang accused “forces outside the region” of allegedly destroying the “good momentum” in relations by making “provocations.”

“As important members of the region, China and the Philippine should be committed to independent foreign policy, uphold the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, deepen the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership and contribute the stability and prosperity of the region,” he said.

XI-DUTERTE 'CONSENSUS'

Former Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Fu Ying meanwhile urged the Philippines and China to “respect and abide by the consensus reached” by Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Rodrigo Duterte on how to manage the disputes in the South China Sea.

Fu said the two leaders have discussed issues concerning the disputes on a number of occasions” and have vowed not to allow differences to affect the two countries' relationship.

“They went into great steps and reached profound understanding and agreed that the difference should not be allowed to interrupt the normal progress of the bilateral relationship. They should be put at an appropriate place and properly handled through dialogues,” she said.

Fu, however, maintained that China cannot accept the South China Sea arbitration, saying it is “unfair” but that the superpower is determined to seek “peaceful means” to manage the maritime dispute.

The 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling by a UN-backed court invalidated Beijing's claims in the South China Sea, dismissing them as "baseless", favoring Manila which pushed for the international case.

Experts have said that the 2016 arbitral award is binding, and that China is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which allows arbitration as a dispute settlement mechanism.

But Fu said China cannot accept the ruling.

“The Law of the Sea is about the maritime right. The Law of the Sea does not give any country the power, the right to impose on others,” she said.

“However, we are determined to resort to peaceful means and we trust that we should be able to manage the differences with our neighbors especially with the Philippines which is an understanding and friendly country," she added.

ARROYO, CHINA'S ALLY

In her welcome remarks for the Forum, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said Philippine-China relations should not be centered on maritime disputes.

“They should be multi-faceted with an economic face, a political face, a cultural face and Filipino people-to-Chinese people face,” she said.

Arroyo, who pushed for closer ties with China during her presidency, has warned that tensions and troubles in the South China Sea were posing “grave threats” to stability, and Southeast Asian nations were seriously concerned.

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