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China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS -

Bei­jing is look­ing for­ward to for­mer Philip­pine pres­i­dent Fidel Ramos’ visit­ing China as a spe­cial en­voy and wants him to come as soon as pos­si­ble, For­eign Min­istry spokeswom­anHuaChun­y­ing said onWed­nes­day, the third day of the for­mer leader’s “ice-break­ing trip” to Hong Kong.

“China sticks to an open at­ti­tude to­ward all means of con­tact be­tween China and the Philippines, and wel­comesMr Ramos to China,” Hua said.

The spokes­woman called on the two sides to make joint ef­forts to im­prove bi­lat­eral ties, re­store dia­logue and co­op­er­a­tion, and push for­ward the healthy and sta­ble development of Chi­naPhilip­pines ties.

Ramos, 88, started a five­day trip to Hong Kong on Mon­day. He said he would meet “old friends” with links to of­fi­cials in Bei­jing.

Ramos told re­porters on Tues­day that he planned to meet with Wu Shi­cun, who heads the Na­tional In­sti­tute for South China Sea Stud­ies, a think tank on Hainan Is­land. He gave no other de­tails of his itin­er­ary.

Ramos de­fined the trip as “ice-break­ing”, af­ter bi­lat­eral ties were jeop­ar­dized by an ar­bi­tra­tion case ini­ti­ated by Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s pre­de­ces­sor, Benigno Aquino III.

Dur­ing Ramos’ time as pres­i­dent from 1992 to 1998, the two coun­tries eased ten­sions caused by con­fronta­tions over the Meiji Reef.

Delia Al­bert, for­mer sec­re­tary of for­eign af­fairs of the Philippines, told China Daily that she thinks the re­la­tion­ship could make progress with the meet­ings in­Hong Kong.

“I’m very happy to see Ramos visit­ing Hong Kong, be­cause he has many

China sticks to an open at­ti­tude to­ward all means of con­tact be­tween China and the Philippines.”

good friends there and he is also the main pro­moter of the Boao Fo­rum. More con­tact is very good,” she said.

Richard Hey­dar­ian, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Manila-based De La Salle Uni­ver­sity, said the Philippines is look­ing for in­vest­ments from China for its do­mes­tic development, but the cur­rent re­la­tion­ship is “ex­tremely toxic”.

This visit “hope­fully brings some nor­mal­iza­tion to it”, he said.

Chen Qinghong, a re­searcher in South­east Asian and Philip­pine stud­ies at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions in Bei­jing, said that China and the Philippines can start com­mu­ni­ca­tions on some eas­ier top­ics first to cre­ate an at­mos­phere for dia­logue on sen­si­tive is­sues.

How­ever, he added that China’s stance on sovereignty will not be changed, since sovereignty is not a kind of com­mod­ity to trade.

Con­tact the writ­ers at an­bai­jie@chi­

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