China welcomes appointment of new Philippine ambassador

2012-12-06 01:54:08 GMT2012-12-06 09:54:08(Beijing Time)

China on Wednesday welcomed the appointment of Erlinda Basilio as the Philippines’ new envoy to China, saying that its country hoped that the new ambassador would contribute to the development of the two countries’ bilateral relations.

“We attach importance to our relations with the Philippines. It is our hope that the early appointment of the new ambassador may facilitate the communication between both sides and the development of our bilateral relations,” Zhang Hua, spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Manila, said in a statement.

The 68-year old seasoned diplomat, who had helped draft national diplomatic policy as foreign department undersecretary, was named to the post by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. She would take over the post left vacant at the height of tensions involving territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Basilio would be replacing Sonia Brady, who had to leave her post and return to Manila after she suffered a stroke in August.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Philippines also backed Basilio’s appointment, saying that it was confident that Basilio could carry out her task of enhancing the relationship between the Philippines and China.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario noted that the department was endeavoring to significantly enhance the country’s bilateral relations with China, adding that they were counting on Basilio to “play a major role in achieving our defined objectives.”

Philippines names new envoy to China

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday named his foreign-affairs undersecretary, Erlinda Basilio, as the new ambassador to China in an effort to put an emphasis on patching up ties that have become frayed by an island territorial row.

Observers warned that no major progress will be made in bilateral diplomacy after the new envoy takes office if Manila refuses to change its policy over its territorial complaints over Huangyan Island, which has belonged to China for centuries.

"Given that she is already the senior undersecretary, that sends a signal of how important our relations are with China and how serious we are in trying to achieve an understanding with them," Aquino said.

Basilio, a veteran senior diplomat, was named to replace Sonia Brady, 71, who suffered a stroke in Beijing in August.

Aquino said he would submit Basilio's appointment papers to the Commission on Appointments, subject to confirmation.

Yang Baoyun, an expert on Southeast Asian studies at Peking University, said Aquino's remarks have shown "mixed feelings" behind the government's stance on the island feud.

The island standoff has taught Manila a lesson in the necessity of bonding with China, and it also realized its inseparable economic dependence on the Chinese market, Yang said. "Yet the Aquino administration has not given up playing up its rival claim and stirring up the situation in the South China Sea," he said.

On April 10, a Philippine warship entered the island's territorial waters, sent personnel to harass Chinese fishing boats and attempted to detain Chinese fishermen, who were later rescued by two Chinese patrol ships there.

Beijing lodged a series of protests in Manila over the infringement of its sovereignty, but the impasse continued in the waters off the island.

Manila has repeatedly resorted to international conventions, including the ASEAN Summit meetings last month, to bring up its claim to the island and lobbied around to complicate the issue, efforts that have been criticized by Beijing.

Chen Qinghong, an expert on Southeast Asian studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that Manila's drive for stirring up issues in the South China Sea will not see an end despite the naming of a new ambassador to Beijing.

"As long as the Philippines refuses to give up its policy of allying with the US in containing China and continuing its maritime expansion plan for the vast gas and oil buried under the sea, its provocations in the region will not come to an end," Chen said.

Yang Baoyun also said Manila will hardly make a major concession for fear of possible strong objections that will be raised within the country.

Diplomatic sources as saying Basilio had helped draft the Philippines' hard-line stance against China's claims, a position that has irked Beijing, AFP reported.

Editor: Mei Jingya
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