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New envoy may ease tension

(China Daily)

09:18, May 28, 2012

Manila wants a diplomatic solution to the impasse over Huangyan Island, analysts said, as it decided to send an ambassador to China.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has designated career diplomat Sonia Brady as the new ambassador to China, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Saturday, a few days after Aquino approved the appointment of Brady on May 23.

Aquino wanted "someone who is already familiar with the politics and the culture of that country. That person can hit the ground running", Valte said of Brady, who will have to pass the Commission on Appointments prior to taking her position.

The commission refused to approve the posting of Domingo Lee, who is now Aquino's special envoy to China, saying Lee was inexperienced.

It is abnormal for the Philippines to have not appointed an ambassador to China for more than one year, said Ren Yuanzhe, a researcher at China Foreign Affairs University. The situation reflects the strained relationship between Manila and Beijing, and any two countries with normal diplomatic relations should exchange ambassadors based on the principle of reciprocity.

Ambassadors are particularly needed when there are difficulties in mutual ties, he said, hoping the veteran, who served as ambassador in Beijing from 2006 to 2010, could play her due role in connecting the two countries and achieving a smooth and friendly relationship.

The Philippines has gone through two phases over its policy toward China since the Huangyan Island incident, Ren said.

"Currently, Manila not only expresses the willingness (to seek) diplomatic solutions through various channels, but it also hopes to increase its leverage in future negotiations with Beijing by strengthening military relations with Washington."

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