By Genalyn D. Kabiling
The Philippines is pushing for a “stronger” bond with China despite a lingering territorial row in the South China Sea.
President Duterte expressed his desire to further improve relations with China during a meeting with a delegation of the Communist Party of China led by Meng Xiangfeng in Malacañang last Tuesday.
“During the meet and greet at Malacañang Palace, the President reiterated ‘our desire and wish of the Filipino people that we make our bond stronger,'” a Malacañang press statement said. “He further noted that the bond is ‘improving everyday,’” Malacañang added.
The President’s meeting with the Chinese party members came amid reports of China’s increased construction activities on the Kagitingan Reef in the South China Sea.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier recommended the filing of a diplomatic protest if China’s military buildup on the reef is proven.
The Palace has agreed that such protest would be “proper remedy, saying the government has opposed any militarization of the territory since it would threaten peace and security in the area.”
But the Palace maintained that there was still no breach in China’s good faith not to pursue new reclamation in the area.
Also present in the meeting with the President were CPC members Yuan Zhibing, Director General of Bureau One International Department of the CPC; Lin Zhi, Division Chief, Personnel Bureau, CPC; and Du Dingding, Division Chief, Bureau One International Department of the CPC. Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and Embassy of China Counselor Sun Yi also attended the meeting.
The CPC party members are in Manila upon the invitation of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, also PDP-Laban president, and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi were also present in the meeting.
The Philippines and China have overlapping claims in the South China Sea believed to be rich in marine and mineral resources.
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