Philippine President wants to open “new chapter” with China
Manila, Beijing Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants to open a “new chapter” in relations with large neighbor China with a visit to Beijing. Referring to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Marcos said before departing from Manila on Tuesday that these issues “do not belong between two friends like the Philippines and China.”
The Philippine President, who took office six months ago, said he wanted to try to resolve the issues. China was the Philippines’ largest trading partner, a major source of development aid and also the second most important source of foreign tourists before the pandemic. He is looking for a fresh start “in our comprehensive, strategic cooperation”.
A number of cooperation agreements are to be signed during the three-day visit. Among other things, a “hot line” is to be set up between the two foreign ministries in order to avoid “miscalculations and communication breakdowns” in the territorial dispute, as reported by a high-ranking Philippine government official.
Marcos wants to work for the sovereign rights of the Philippines and is striving for a peaceful and stable situation. But the differences over maritime claims are only part of the overall bilateral relationship from the president’s perspective, the official said.
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Marcos will meet with China’s leader Xi Jinping on Wednesday. A meeting with Premier Li Keqiang is also planned.
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China claims around 80 percent of the South China Sea. Like other neighbors, the Philippines also lay claim to islands, atolls and reefs, some of which are more than 800 kilometers from the Chinese coast, but only about 220 kilometers from the Philippine coast.
At the request of the Philippines, the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected the territorial claims in 2016. But China ignores the verdict.
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