Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos says he wants to focus on points of common interest with China such as tourism and commercial fishing as part of efforts to smooth relations with Beijing roiled by the South China Sea dispute.

Ramos spoke with reporters Tuesday in Hong Kong, where he said he plans to meet old friends with links to officials in Beijing.

Current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked the 88-year-old Ramos to act as his special envoy to pave the way for talks with Beijing after an international arbitration tribunal invalidated China's expansive territorial claims in a case put forward by the Philippines.

China has denied Philippine fishermen access to traditional grounds lying within the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile (370-kilometer) exclusive economic zone, an area Ramos implied the countries could share.