China / Politics

In HK, Ramos dines with senior lawmaker

By An Baijie In Beijing And Deng Yanzi In Hong Kong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-12 08:12

Former Philippine president Fidel Ramos had dinner with senior Chinese official Fu Ying in Hong Kong on Wednesday, which was "a good start in breaking the ice" of strained relations, according to a former Philippine official who accompanied Ramos on the trip.

Rafael Alunan III, former interior and local government secretary of the Philippines, uploaded 20 photos of the dinner to his Facebook account on Thursday. In the photos, Fu, chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China's top legislature, sat on the right side of Ramos, smiling while exchanging books as gifts.

"To defuse the crisis and explore opportunities is the mission. Our common ground is human and ecological security," Alunan wrote.

Ramos began a five-day visit to Hong Kong on Monday, seeking to rekindle bilateral ties jeopardized by an arbitration case initiated by former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III.

Fu, former vice-minister of foreign affairs, served as China's ambassador to the Philippines from 1998 to 2000. The countries improved ties during Ramos' presidential term from 1992 to 1998.

Last month, Fu said at London-based think tank Chatham House while explaining China's stance on the South China Sea that for long periods of its history, China suffered the humiliation of foreign invasion and aggression, leaving its people and government very sensitive about territorial integrity.

"China is firm in its stance to resist any repeat of history regardless of how insignificant or small they may seem to others. First and foremost, China wants to protect its sovereignty and rights," she said.

Richard Heydarian, an assistant professor of political science at De La Salle University, said he was "cautiously optimistic" about what comes next after Ramos' trip.

"Ramos hopes to get the ball rolling during his Hong Kong visit, paving the way for normalization of ties," he said.

Li Guoqiang, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, said the China-Philippines relationship has been seriously affected by the arbitration case, and Duterte's attitude would be the key to bilateral ties.

"The Philippines should not dream of undermining China's sovereignty interests and getting China's investment simultaneously," he said.

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