The Philippines is taking steps to mend its relations with China, but emphasized that it will not drop its arbitration case against Beijing, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Thursday.
Relations between the two Asian neighbors plunged to its lowest when the Philippines sought arbitration in January 2013 to try to declare as illegal China’s massive claim over the South China Sea, including areas within the waters that fall under Manila’s territory.
Both China and the Philippines have recently called for a normalization of ties, more importantly trade relations, amid territorial disputes. They have tried to tone down rhetorics from time to time, but relations remain estranged despite a brief meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine leader Benigno S. Aquino III on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing last November.
“We believe that this improvement in our bilateral relations does not or will not adversely affect our advocacies in terms of seeking clarification of our maritime claims… through arbitration,” Del Rosario told reporters at a lunch reception for the media.