Given the current political imbroglio the Philippines-China relation is in, the review of this important document may shed new insights on the foundation of the relationship and perhaps a possible resolution for a way forward all parties desire.
Following is the relevant text of the Communique, which also calling for the occasion deserves to be quoted in full (emphasis by the author).
The Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (RP), desiring to promote the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Filipino Peoples, have decided upon mutual recognition and the establishment of diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level effective date of signature of this communiqué.
The Two Governments hold that the economic, political and social system of a country should be chosen only by the people of the country, without outside interference. They maintain that the difference between the economic, political, and social systems of the PRC and the RP should not constitute an obstacle of peaceful co-existence and the establishment and development of peaceful and friendly relations between the two countries and peoples in accordance with the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality, and mutual benefit.
The Two Governments agree to settle all disputes by peaceful means on the basis of the above-mentioned principles without resorting to the use or threat of force.
The Two Governments agree that all foreign aggression and subversion and all attempts by any country to control any other country or to interfere in its internal affairs are to be condemned. They are opposed to any attempt by any country or group of countries to establish hegemony or create spheres of influence in any part of the world.
The Two Governments agree to cooperate with each other to achieve the foregoing objectives.
The latter half of Article III invites more questions than answers:
“The Government of the PRC recognizes the Government of the RP and agrees to respect the independence and sovereignty of the RP. The Two Governments recognize and agree to respect each other’s territorial integrity.”
The Joint Communique was signed by then Premier Zhou En-Lai and President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr.
Fast forward to June 9, 2015.
Last week, Senator Santanina Rasul urged Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to invite his mother, Congresswoman Imelda Romualdez Marcos, to his June 9 public hearing at the Senate Committee on Local Government “to shed light on the Tripoli Agreement signed in 1976”.
The setting could not be more timely and symbolic. For Congresswoman Marcos also holds the Philippine’s only direct link to what the two signatories of the Philippines-China 1975 Joint Communique may have agreed upon behind close doors.
The group picture below of the historic signing where soon-to-be China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was standing in the background suggests he may very well have been privy to the negotiations. In 1978, when addressing his country’s territorial dispute with Japan, he was quoted: Our generation is not wise enough to find common language to this question. Our next generation will certainly be wiser. They will certainly find a solution acceptable to all.” He would repeat this view in his meeting with President Cory Aquino in 1988.
The Two Governments Agree to Adopt Active Measures for the Development of Trade and Economic Relations between them. They have agreed to negotiate and conclude a trade agreement based on their respective needs and on the principle of equality and mutual benefit.
The Two Governments noted the importance of cultural exchanges in developing mutual understanding and friendship between their two peoples.
Action plans may be developed from the principles established back then.
Winston Churchill once said: “The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.”
Fortunately for the Philippines, we still have the means to connect with the people who lived through the opening of diplomatic relations. And if the provisions and resolutions may be implemented correctly, may also lead to renewed prosperity for generations to come.
Time, will not always bless us so fortunately.
Austin Ong is hoping to reach out to the personalities in the picture to gather and collect their first-hand accounts of the historic event for posterity. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.