MANILA, June 30 (Xinhua) -- New Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to take a pragmatic approach to the South China Sea disputes with China, analysts here have said, noting that Manila will benefit a lot from a friendly relationship with Beijing.
Duterte was sworn in as the country's 16th president on Thursday.
The government of former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III filed an arbitration case against China in 2013, despite the agreement his country had reached with China on resolving their South China Sea disputes through bilateral negotiations.
China has refused to participate in the proceedings and declared that it will never recognize the verdict, stressing that the tribunal has no jurisdiction because the case is in essence related to territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation.
"Every incoming president, every incoming administration has advantage of a fresh start," diplomat Lauro Baja said Wednesday. "And by the pronouncements of Duterte, he seems to be more open to talking to China than his predecessor (President Benigno Aquino III)."
The South China Sea issue is "the most sensitive" foreign policy issue for Duterte and his administration, he said, adding, "What I believe is this: there must be some lines of communication between China and the Philippines which does not exist now."
Political science professor Benito Lim said Duterte is still in the process of "trying to sort things out" when it comes to the maritime disputes.
"There are two things that can only happen: either we talk to China or we continue this conflict. But we have to ask ourselves: what did we get from this long conflict? What's wrong if we talk to them?" he said.
Lim noted that the new administration must exercise flexibility and have an open, clear mind if it wants to deal with China.
"It's about time we think seriously what exactly we want in that region instead of carrying a quarrel that is leading to something that is not constructive," he said.
Asked whether he will see a change in the relationship between Manila and Beijing, Lim said it depends on what the Duterte administration will do.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs and the people there should ask themselves the questions: What exactly do we want to do with the South China Sea issue? What are we going to ask for? We cannot say that it is ours ... Standoff again. There's nothing we can gain from that position. Nothing progressive will take place," Lim said.
"So our leadership need to assess and think very carefully what we need and what is most beneficial for the country if we sit down and talk," he said.
Duterte said last month that he wanted China to help improve the country's poor infrastructure by building a railway system that links the entire country.
Clarita Carlos, a professor with the University of the Philippines and president of the Centre for Asia Pacific Studies Inc, said Duterte is doing a "brilliant" strategy in dealing with China.
"What is important is we keep on talking and engaging constructively with China," Carlos said, predicting that the relations between the two countries will improve.
by Nemanja Cabric and Wang Huijuan
BELGRADE, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Manila's unilateral initiation of arbitration on the South China Sea disputes with China is a "catastrophic mistake," Vladimir Djukanovic, member of the Serbian National Assembly said here on Wednesday.
Djukanovic, also a member of the presidency of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, told Xinhua in an interview that the move aims to prolong the process of finding a solution to this dispute and help the United States maintain its influence on trade in the South China Sea. Full story
BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague has said on Wednesday that an arbitral tribunal with widely contested jurisdiction will issue an award on July 12 on the South China Sea case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.
The following is the timeline of the South China Sea arbitration case the government of outgoing Philippine President Benigno Aquino III initated without China's participation or support. Full story