Ex-Philippine leader Ramos travels to Hong Kong as ‘icebreaker’ with China


Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos speaks to journalists as he arrives at Hong Kong International Airport, China August 8, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos speaks to journalists as he arrives at Hong Kong International Airport, China August 8, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos on Monday departed on a five-day trip to Hong Kong to meet “old friends” and rekindle ties with China soured by a maritime dispute in the South China Sea.

In July, an arbitration court in the Hague ruled that China had no historic title over the busy waterway and had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights with various actions there, infuriating Beijing, which dismissed the case.

“This may pave the way for future diplomatic talks,” Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a text message, adding that Ramos would “meet old friends and possibly play a few rounds of golf” in the Chinese territory.

Ramos, 88, who described his role as “an icebreaker”, accepted an offer from Duterte to be special envoy to China after the Hague court’s ruling on July 12.

“That is not my mission,” Ramos said, however, when asked if he would raise the topic of the ruling.

“It is not me who will raise that issue,” he told a news conference in Manila before his flight. “My mission is to rekindle ties with China.”

Officials of both countries would hold formal talks, he added.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea, believed to be rich in energy deposits.

Ramos’ trip represented “the first concrete step” for both sides to engage and “could open a new chapter in settling disputes”, said China’s state news agency, Xinhua.

“Ramos is probably the best choice for the job of breaking ice, since he is a revered statesman widely respected in his own country and in Asia,” it added in a commentary.

Ramos was president from 1992 to 1998, when China occupied the submerged Mischief Reef, building structures it said its fishermen would use.

In 2012, China seized the Scarborough Shoal, denying Philippine fishermen access to a rich fishing ground, and prompting Manila to file the arbitration case.

China has ignored the court’s ruling that none of its reefs and holdings in the Spratly Islands entitled it to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

Ramos did not identify the “old friends” he will meet in the former British colony, but described them as either retired or not in an official capacity, although they could help influence China’s leaders in Beijing.

“I still have no authority to travel to Beijing,” he said. “I am retired. I am done with negotiations.”

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato in MANILA and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “Ex-Philippine leader Ramos travels to Hong Kong as ‘icebreaker’ with China”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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6 Comments on “Ex-Philippine leader Ramos travels to Hong Kong as ‘icebreaker’ with China”

  1. johnleecan says:

    Nothing will come out of this.

    Philippines see cash, money when they see the Chinese. They will use deceit to obtain their greedy objective and renegade on their negotiations if there are any. Same goes with the Indonesians and Vietnamese.

    Just having a Chinese looking face and/or a Chinese surname is a magnet for extortion.

    They never think the Chinese worked very hard for their money. Their usual explanations how the Chinese succeeds is because of government connections and/or they resort to bribery. But they never see that the majority of Chinese are not rich.

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  2. Joseph says:

    Fidel Ramos was part of Corazon Aquino team that kicked the pro-American Ferdinand Marcos back in 1986. I am surprised that Filipino still remember him. As Philippines president he continued his predecessor attempt and succeeded to kick the American from Phillipines Subic and Clark bases. If anyone fit to jump start China-Phillipines relationship, it is him. He should have pinched the ear of that prodigal boy Aquino in the first place in 2012, as his senior and former president. Sending him to China may indicate that Duterte may try to emulate Germany’s Gerrard Schroeder to repair the diplomatic damage done by the then pro-American Angela Merkel administration in 2007. If Duterte administration has the capacity to turn around and treat his relationship with China with respect the way Angela Merkel did, then there is hope for Phillipines after all.

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  3. johnleecan says:

    Philippines can’t be trusted! Majority of Filipinos are very anti-Chinese just like Vietnamese and Indonesians. These traitorous people are back stabbers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph says:

      You know, your attitude is what the American wants to hear as the success of media warfare. It is clear that Western media have been attempting to potray China to be standing alone in the region where everyone hate and hostile to China. But that is actually not the case. China now has many friends and supporters than ever before, while the West has never been so unpopular before. The recent rebuke of American by the ASEAN over the PCA ruling was the proof. Bashing anyone who ‘hate’ China according to Western media is exactly what the Westerners want to create discord and disunity.
      Growing up in Chinese-hostile Indonesia, was not easy. I used to hate Indonesian, I took me a long time to get over it. But if I cannot let it go, then I play right into Western scheme, us fighting among ourselves, then asking them to come as the ‘heroes’. I hate that even much more. I cannot deny the atmosphere of change. There are genuine distaste of the Westerners, especially the American, for what they did. And there are sign that people are interested to Chinese culture the way before the American time. Recently I met some friends who have business in Vietnam, which told me that the Vietnamese they know are similarly not Chinese-hating people the Western media love to portray. In fact, being a Chinese has more advantage for business than being a Westerners in Vietnam. Of course there are still some pro-American group in every countries, even in China itself, but they no longer matter. They cannot deny the bond of millenia of relationship China has with the region. Even many Indonesian now say that the American and their scheme are but passing wind in our history. It is a dark page in our history but in 50 years it will no longer matter, just like the bygone European colonizers, while the Chinese will always be here like rocks that withstand the passing of time. While the region’s relation with China is not always going to be smooth, it has withstand the test of history.

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  4. Steve says:

    Strange, I had the opinion he was travelling to Beijing. Mr. Ramos said he is retired and done with negotiations, so what is his capacity as President Duterte’s representative.? To meet a middle man with offers conveyed to the Boss in Beijing.?

    In other words, he is bartering, like a trade off that China can have Huangyan island in exchange for construction of high speed railways, roads & bridges, hospital and infrastructure.? But then historically, China owns Huangyan island. Probably, exchanging some atolls, reefs and holdings in the Spratlys for something substantial.

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