Philippines' Aquino sees improving ties with China
MANILA (AP) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino said on Wednesday that he hopes the new leaders who take over China next month can improve bilateral ties that have been strained following a standoff earlier this year over a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
Relations have improved slightly due to recent talks, Mr Aquino said, and since Philippine ships pulled out of the Scarborough Shoal. He noted that Chinese vessels have been in and out of the area but there is freedom of navigation.
Still, the core issue - who has sovereign rights over the tiny, uninhabited rocks off the northern Philippine island of Luzon - has not been resolved and overshadows relations.
The Philippines wants international arbitration, which Beijing has ruled out. Manila also wants a broader agreement between China and Asean to tackle the disputes, while China prefers to negotiate individually with each claimant.