SINGAPORE, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Zhao Qizheng, dean of the school of journalism at the Renmin University of China, said here Tuesday that it is hoped that China and the Philippines could restart bilateral negotiations, and the negotiations should move step by step.
Zhao, who is also former minister of China's State Council Information Office, made the remarks at the media briefing after the Think Tank Seminar on South China Sea and Regional Cooperation and Development held here on Monday.
Highlighting that China and the Philippines share lots of common interests, Zhao said that there are also contradictions and conflicts both countries face.
The conflict between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea has been decades, and the problem is difficult to solve in the near future, Zhao said, adding that the best way is to start with problems that are easy to reach agreements, before moving to more complex issues.
"China and Philippines can temporarily put aside differences, and discuss issues of joint exploration first,"Zhao said.
"Joint developments are very broad, including resources, fisheries, maritime rescue, meteorologic data exchange as well as disaster relief at sea. We should move step by step."
Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said that China's door to dialogue has always been open, and bilateral negotiations and peaceful settlement of disputes are always welcomed.
The government of former Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III filed the arbitration against China in 2013, despite the agreement his country had reached with China on resolving disputes in the South China Sea through bilateral negotiations. Since then, China-Philippines relations have been severely deteriorated.
However, current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed readiness and willingness to hold bilateral talks with China, saying that he is planning to send envoy to China to restart negotiations.
Li said that he hopes the South China Sea issue would be properly re-pulled back on the track of diplomatic negotiations on the basis of mutual respect and joint consultation.
He stressed that if China and Philippines decide to restart diplomatic mechanism, under no circumstances should the South China Sea arbitration be used as reference.
Organized by the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the one-day seminar attracted more than 20 experts from academic institutes in China and Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia.