China on Sunday reached out to the Philippines by showing its inclination to opt for negotiating table to "appropriately handle" the South China Sea issue and said President Rodrigo Duterte's move to improve bilateral relations with Beijing will only help remove a "stumbling block".
"....... our two countries do have different views on certain issues and our relations encountered a setback due to the South China Sea issue. As the saying goes, 'The wise expand common ground while the unwise aggravate differences'. Since taking office, President Duterte made the right decision to improve and develop relations with China. The two sides returned to the track of appropriately handling the South China Sea issue through dialogue and consultation, thus removing the stumbling block that has held back our bilateral relations for several years," Chinese premier Li Keqiang wrote in a newspaper article published widely in Philippines newspapers on Sunday.
In what can be seen as a pragmatic touch and glimpses of Chinese wisdom, the Premier waxes eloquently as he writes: "As a Filipino proverb says, Seize today, or you will lose tomorrow. We are ready to work with the Philippines to seize these opportunities to take our bilateral relations forward and break new ground in our friendship and cooperation".
Giving a rather historical perspective to the China-Philippines relationship, the Premier writes: "Facing each other across the sea, our peoples share a close bond and a long history of friendly association. Our earliest exchanges could be traced to the period of China's Tang and Song dynasties.’