Manilla has chosen to set aside its maritime border dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea and focus on building economic links, according to the Philippines’ trade minister.
“I credit it to the wisdom of our president [Rodrigo Duterte] to really be more realistic and practical, to consider the positive points of having a relationship with China renewed,” Philippine Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon Lopez told the South China Morning Post.
“He has mentioned in many of his statements that why fight China when we can set aside the differences and focus on areas of cooperation, focus on how China and the Philippines can help in mutual growth,” he added.
On this day last year, a UN tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in a maritime border dispute in the South China Sea. China has rejected the ruling, as has Taiwan.
Despite the decision, the Philippines has been rapidly improving relations and cooperating with China on various issues.
China has lifted a ban on the import of bananas and mangos from the Philippines. As a result, Philippines’ export to the mainland and Hong Kong surged 34 percent in the first five months of the year.
“It will only grow faster because it is only now we are getting to see a fuller impact of this relationship, the fuller impact of the benefits of having a revived and renewed relationship,” said Lopez.
The Philippines’ wants GDP to grow seven to eight percent in the coming five years, and China is a very important factor, he added.