Tuesday August 16, 2016
As much as Washington may hate it, the fact is Beijing and Manila are diplomatically discussing the situation in the South China Sea.
Champagne bottles are not popping yet, but Special Philippine envoy, former President Fidel Ramos, did go to Hong Kong, and on behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte, got together with Fu Ying, the chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee of the National People’s Congress. On the record, Ramos made sure that Manila is all in for formal negotiations.
The starting block concerns some fishy business - literally. Beijing and Manila may be on their way already to open the highly disputed Scarborough shoal, which falls right into what Manila describes as the West Philippine Sea, to both Chinese and Filipino fishermen, as in the joint development of fish farms.
Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, let it be known that Ramos’s visit to Hong Kong was just an opener. Of course his next step will have to be a trip to Beijing to talk to the high-stakes power players. Then the way will be paved for a formal Duterte state visit.