By Mei Jingya, Sina English
In an effort to find a win-win solution to the diplomatic stalemate stemming from the clash over the Huangyan Island, Philippine experts have advised the government to consider shifting its priority to restoring normal trade relations with China.
The Philippine Star reported that, Chito Sta. Romana, former Beijing bureau chief of ABC News, said the Philippines' relations with China are at its lowest point and that it would be best to work on restoring bilateral trade ties while looking at ways to resolve the dispute.
Romana made the remarks at the Makati Business Club (MBC)'s General Membership Meeting on August 22.
"Generally, I think we have to accept that the issue of sovereignty is a tough one to address. It is a problem that we cannot solve immediately, so what we have to do is to put national sovereignty if possible on the back burner and try to normalize ties again," Romana was quoted as saying. "The immediate goal is to restore normal tourism and normal trade ties, to restore banana trade and flow of tourists."
Given the prevailing climate of opinion, he added, engaging China in all spheres of diplomacy is urgently needed to resolve the conflict.
In a separate Daily Inquirer report, experts attending the afore-mentioned MBC meeting also expressed willingness to back private China-PH projects to ease trade tension, hoping to give a boost to Philippine-China relations through private sector initiatives.
MBC chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr. said after the meeting that individual projects by private companies will do good to bilateral ties, citing as an example the efforts of Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Philex Petroleum Corp, to consider possible cooperation with state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. CNOOC) on the exploration of Recto Bank (Chinese Liyue Bank).
Bilateral relationship has been placed at stake since early this year a standoff over the Huangyan Island occurred in the South China Sea.
As a result, Philippine's agriculture sector, particularly banana exporters, was hit hard by the dispute. And furthermore, Chinese travel agencies suspended tour packages to the Philippines.
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