PH-China relations go beyond West Philippine Sea issues — Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Friday that the ongoing challenges in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) should not be the sole factor shaping the relationship between the Philippines and China.
When asked about potential agreements to ease tensions in the South China Sea, Marcos said that he and Xi Jinping agreed that the West Philippine Sea issues should not overshadow their diplomatic relationship.
“That’s essentially the message that we spoke of to each other, that we were in agreement that the problems that we have in South China Sea, with China, should not be the defining element of our relationship,” Marcos said during the interview at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco.
The informal meeting between the two leaders took place at the George Moscone Convention during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Marcos pointed out that despite the challenges, ongoing dialogue is crucial to prevent escalations and protect Filipino fishermen.
“But nonetheless, the problems remain and it is something that we will need to continue to communicate to find ways to avoid such incidents. And of course, as ever, whenever this issue comes up, I always bring up the plight of our fishermen,” the president said.
Marcos was hopeful when talking to Xi about bringing back cooperation between Chinese and Filipino fishermen in the region, a point he believes the Chinese leader understood well.
He also mentioned plans for another meeting with Xi to address recent incidents and find solutions to reduce tensions in the South China Sea.
“And hopefully to find ways to avoid that and have ways to move forward from this situation. Essentially, we tried to come up with mechanisms to lower the tensions in South China Sea,” the president said.
Chinese coast guard and militia vessels have persistently harassed Philippine Coast Guard ships, Filipino fishing boats, and other civilian vessels within Philippine territorial waters.
In some instances, the Chinese deployed water cannons to halt Philippine vessels from delivering supplies to troops stationed on BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. Manila responded by filing diplomatic protests, but Beijing dismissed them,