Beijing, Manila fly the flag for peaceful waters
BEIJING — State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Philippines this week underlines the great importance China attaches to its neighborhood diplomacy. It is another sign of China’s commitment to deepening ties with countries in Southeast Asia and working with them to build a shared future.
Wang’s talks with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his Philippine counterpart Teodoro Locsin Jr have touched upon a wide range of issues from deepening bilateral cooperation to jointly defending multilateralism and maintaining peace in the South China Sea.
Indeed, in a little more than two years, Beijing and Manila have made great strides in their reciprocal cooperation. Each time high-ranking officials from the two countries have met, they have focused on how to expand their fields of cooperation and deepen mutual trust. Wang’s visit this time is no exception, as it aims to consolidate the basis for further improvement in bilateral relations, so as to bring more benefits to both countries.
In Manila, Wang made a high evaluation on the two countries’ efforts to properly handle their differences and the useful experience both sides have accumulated in setting aside their territorial dispute so that bilateral ties can flourish.
By looking to the larger picture of nation-to-nation ties and regional peace and stability, the two sides have set a good example for other countries in the region.
Their rapprochement has not only contributed to ratcheting down tensions in the South China Sea, it has also helped build the current desirable momentum in the negotiations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea.
But while these negotiations are in progress, the countries concerned will have to be aware of attempts by some from outside the region to hinder their efforts.
Some countries, of which the United States is the ring-leader, do not want to see China and he members of Asean working together for the good of the region, and they continue to try and make waves in the region. Their disruptive behavior was once again on display during Wang’s visit as the US navy provoked a close encounter with a Chinese destroyer. This is part of their blame game in which China has been given the role of baddie.
China and Asean countries should remain alert to this ill trend to ensure it does not delay or derail the finalizing of a code of conduct for the South China Sea.
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