MANILA:The Philippines says it has agreed with China to pick up their stalled bilateral relations, after barely making contact in recent years because of competing claims in the South China Sea. The announcement came in the days leading up to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ summit in Manila with Chinese President Xi Jinping expected to be in attendance.Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said in the meeting Tuesday between Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi the two sides said they would set aside the “contentious issue” of the South China Sea to get back on track.
“The secretary [del Rosario] said he is pleased. He is very happy to welcome Minister Wang Yi and he said he has been looking forward to the visit because the visit itself is an indication that we can move the bilateral relations forward,” Jose said.He said the Chinese Foreign Ministry delegation made clear their side would not make any reference to maritime issues during the summit. Jose said they had come to lay the groundwork for what they called a “smooth, safe and successful” Philippines visit for President Xi Jinping. The spokesman said Manila is committed to not raising the issue.