MANILA – Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua on Thursday paid a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte, as the two nations seek to mend ties following rocky bilateral ties during the Aquino administration over the South China Sea dispute.
Zhao’s visit came 5 days ahead of the July 12 release of a landmark ruling by the United Nations-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration on the dispute.
Foreign policy experts believe that the Philippines will get a favorable ruling.
A defiant Beijing said it will not recognize any decision, arguing that the course taken by the Aquino administration in resolving the dispute was illegal.
Newly installed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sought to mend broken ties with the Chinese while not giving up the Philippines’ claim to the vital waterway.
While the Aquino administration had dismissed having bilateral talks with China, Duterte expressed openness to such.
Duterte earlier said that while a favorable ruling for Manila would be a “moral victory,” he believes it would also put the government in an “awkward position.”
“It should be a soft landing for everybody, kung meron man, we don’t taunt or flaunt it… We will study progressively kung paano natin magamit,” he said in a televised Cabinet meeting immediately after he was sworn into office.