MYANMAR – President Aquino and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged a few words on the sidelines of the recently concluded Apec Summit in Beijing.
Their 10-minute talk seemed too short for a more concrete discussion on the maritime dispute in the South China Sea – or what Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
Aquino himself recognized that nothing significant came out from that meeting.
“No demands on anything,” said the Philippine president. “And again, at the end of the day, I think at the very least, we had discussions at the highest level.”
But it was clear, Aquino said, his Chinese counterpart would not want anything less than a peaceful solution to the dispute.
“President Xi Jinping was mentioning about all of the previous leaders who were successful in having a relationship that didn’t lead to parang an exchange of words like these,” said Aquino. “And I think all of us would agree – why can’t we have something like that again?”
In the 25th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, Aquino called on fellow Southeast Asian leaders to continue negotiating with China for a legally binding code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea.
Joining the ASEAN leaders was United States President Barack Obama, and their talks centered on working together for security and stability in the region.
“In each and every one of these cases, I believe we’re stronger if we are together than when we act individually,” said Obama. “We are invested in building capacity in between nations to meet global challenges ahead.”
Aside from territorial disputes, the threat of the terror group ISIS was also high on the agenda of the ASEAN Summit.
That is why ASEAN leaders agree that security in the region is as important because for the planned ASEAN integration, there will surely be no business if there is no peace.”