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Aquino Heads Home With China Vow of Support

April 17, 1988|DAVID HOLLEY | Times Staff Writer

BEIJING — Philippine President Corazon Aquino ended a three-day visit to China on Saturday, heading back toward her insurgency-plagued nation with pledges of support from Beijing.

Deng Xiaoping, China's paramount leader, met Aquino on Saturday morning, praised her and said that she has brought stability to her country. Later in the day, Aquino flew to Hong Kong, where she was to spend the night before returning to Manila.

"The Philippines has turned from turbulence to stability," Deng said to Aquino, according to a report by the official New China News Agency. "And I believe you are doing your job very well, so China expects a stable, prosperous and strong Philippines."

Shortly after meeting with Deng, the Philippine president told a press conference that the Chinese leader "said categorically that the Communist Party of China will support the Aquino administration."

The Communist-led Philippine insurgency is considered indigenous, but in the 1960s, under the late Chairman Mao Tse-tung, China gave it moral support and some material aid.

Most of this assistance, if not all of it, ended long ago. But asked Saturday about reports that as recently as last fall, her government protested the flow of some Chinese-made weapons to the Philippine rebels, Aquino replied, "There was no formal protest."

Statements Saturday by Deng and Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang put China on record as strongly in favor of Philippine stability under Aquino's leadership. This was within the context of pledges of non-interference in Philippine internal affairs--a point stressed by Aquino at the press conference.

Zhao, according to the New China News Agency, said that Aquino "has done a lot to expand friendly relations between the two countries, and China is grateful to her for these efforts."

"The Chinese Communist Party, government and leaders consider friendly cooperation with the Philippines very important," Zhao said, according to the news agency report.

In a concrete symbol of friendship, Chinese Premier Li Peng told Aquino that China will deliver 10,000 tons of rice to the Philippines as relief grain for areas hit last year by drought.

"This is his way of showing the people of the Philippines that the people of China care," Aquino said at the press conference.

Asked about Philippine hopes that China would agree to sell oil at "friendship" prices, Aquino replied that Chinese officials have promised to study the matter.

After the press conference, representatives of the two sides signed a trade protocol calling for bilateral trade this year to reach $400 million to $450 million. A separate memorandum of understanding called for annual trade to reach $600 million to $800 million by 1992.

'Happy' About Arrests

Aquino also said that she was "very happy" to learn of the arrests Friday in Manila of 10 supporters of former Lt. Col. Gregorio (Gringo) Honasan, the fugitive rebel leader of an August coup attempt.

"I think that should show what kind of support Honasan has, in particular because the military was able to do this with civilian cooperation," Aquino said.

Aquino said that she and Deng reaffirmed an earlier Sino-Philippine agreement to indefinitely "shelve" the question of conflicting territorial claims of the two countries in the Spratly Islands. China and Vietnam have recently clashed over the disputed island chain in the South China Sea.

Aquino, who is partly of Chinese ancestry, said that her trip had also been "a sentimental visit" because she was able to visit the Fujian province village of Hongjian, where her great-grandfather was born.

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