HONG KONG, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos said in Hong Kong Tuesday that the purpose of his visit to China is not for negotiations but to "rekindle" the Sino-Philippine friendship.
Designated by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as a special envoy, Ramos arrived in Hong Kong on Monday evening to start his visit to China after the South China Sea arbitration case has frozen the two countries' ties.
"My job is to look for some old friends who have links to high officials in Beijing. My job is not to negotiate, but to help pave the way, break the ice and rekindle the friendship that we had during my time with China," Ramos told a press conference here.
"We are here on a mission of goodwill and are not involved in any negotiations or official transactions," he said.
Ramos revealed that the people he want to first meet with during his trip is is Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, a major think tank based China's southern island of Hainan Province.
The former Phillipine president said he believed his old friends in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as well as Guangdong, Hainan and Fujian Provinces all have links to Chinese leadership in Beijing since some of them have been elevated to China's top legislature after retirement.
Ramos emphasized the long history of exchanges and close relationship between China and the Philippines in culture and people-to-people communication, adding the fact that Chinese people discovered the Philippines more than 100 years before the Europeans did.
"I have always been optimistic and looking for the best results. But of course that also depends on the attitude of the Chinese officials," he said, adding that his Chinese friends include very successful businessmen.
Ramos said he will not discuss the particular issue of the South China Sea arbitration with his Chinese friends but seek to improve economic and tourism cooperation between the two countries.
Ramos, 88, served as the Philippine President from 1992 to 1998. After his retirement, Ramos became a key figure who proposed the Boao Forum for Asia, an international think tank which was also based in Hainan.
The special envoy said the reason why he choose Hong Kong as his first stop is that it is very close to Shenzhen, Haikou, Guangzhou and other southern cities where he often went in and out after retirement.
Ramos said he will wait in Hong Kong for coordination between the Philippine Embassy and China's Foreign Ministry on when he will go to Beijing. On the other hand, he wished those Chinese friends could come directly to meet him in Hong Kong.