Marcos says he will find ways to resolve conflicts with China, as he meets top diplomat

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr will be meeting China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on July 6, 2022. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP

MANILA (REUTERS, PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Tueday (July 4) he would “find ways to resolve the conflicts” with Beijing when he meets with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

In a news briefing ahead of his meeting with Mr Wang, Mr Marcos Jr said he wanted his country’s relationship with China to go beyond disputes over parts of the South China issue, as he sought to “strengthen ties between China and the Philippines”.

“The agenda... will be to strengthen ties with China and the Philippines and, of course, to find ways to work to resolve the conflicts that we have,” he said.

“One of the ways I have consistently suggested is that we have our relationship not only on one dimension – the West Philippine Sea,” he added, referring to parts of the South China Sea the Philippines claims.

“Let’s add to that. Let’s have cultural exchanges, educational exchanges and even military, if that will be useful. In the private sector, joint ventures have also been there.

The more we do that, the more it will help resolve the issue,” he said.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, a strategic and resource-rich waterway through which about US$3 trillion (S$4 trillion) of ship-borne trade passes each year

In 2016, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled in favour of the Philippines and dismissed China’s claims.

Mr Marcos Jr’ predecessor, Mr Rodrigo Duterte, set aside that ruling as he sought help from Beijing for his amibitous infrastructure plans.

Mr Marcos Jr has said he will uphold that ruling, and that he “will now allow a single square millimetre of our maritime coastal rights to be trampled upon”.

He said he would hold talks with China “consistently, with a firm voice”.

Mr Marcos Jr is set to meet with Mr Wang on Wednesday (July 6).

The visit was announced by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on Facebook, with the Chinese State Councillor’s visit “ fully reflecting how China attaches importance” to the two countries’ bilateral relations.

“During the visit, State Councillor Wang Yi will pay courtesy calls on the new leadership and hold talks with new (Foreign Minister) Enrique Manalo, delving extensively into Philippine-China relations, practical cooperation, and regional and international issues,” Mr Huang said.

Mr Huang likewise also expressed hopes that Mr Wang’s visit would “kickstart China-Philippines relations in the new era”.

Mr Wang last visited the Philippines in January 2021 for an official trip upon the invitation of then Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.