Historic Restoration of China-Philippines Ties

Duterte’s Visit Presents Overdue Opportunity for China-Philippines Rapprochement

(By Zhu Dongyang. Xinhua News Agency, Oct. 18, 2016. Complete text:) Beijing - After years of estrangement, the bad blood between Beijing and Manila has finally begun to give place to good faith, as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte embarks on an ice-breaking trip to China on Tuesday [Oct. 18].

The visit surprises many around the world. It comes at a time when China-Philippines ties have nosedived to a historical low because of the farcical South China Sea arbitration case brought by Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino III against China.

In a reflection of his keenness to repair the seriously damaged relations, the new Philippine president chose China to be the first country he visits outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations since taking office in June.

Meanwhile, the trip also serves as an encouraging sign of the president’s pluck and pragmatism on foreign relations and international disputes. On the South China Sea issue, he has avoided his predecessor’s idiosyncrasies of colluding with outside meddlers and making unnecessary provocations, and instead reiterated the need of dialogue and negotiation, an approach that is largely in line with Beijing’s stance.

Given the positive signs, Duterte’s widely-watched visit to China functions as a litmus test of his sincerity and political wisdom. Among others, he needs to resist the temptation to thrust the so-called final award in the arbitration case to bilateral talks on the South China Sea issue. The verdict issued by a law-abusing tribunal has no place in the negotiations at all.

Should he demonstrate his good faith, the trip will present a long overdue opportunity for the two nations, which enjoy longstanding friendship, to heal the wounds of the past few years and steer their relationship back to the right course.

A Beijing-Manila detente will be richly rewarding not only ...

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