BANGKOK, Thailand – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday, November 17, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
The two will meet before the gala night for the heads of economies gathered here in Thailand.
It will be Marcos’ first bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart and his first bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC Summit.
The one-on-one will happen over a month before Marcos is set to embark on a state visit to China in early January 2023 – his first state visit outside of Southeast Asia following state visits to Indonesia and Singapore last September.
Marcos has met with several world leaders in bilateral meetings in the first months of his presidency. Last September, on the sidelines of a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Marcos met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and United States President Joe Biden.
On the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in Phnom Penh, Marcos met with Cambodian Prime Minister and ASEAN Chair Hun Sen, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Marcos is expected to hold up to six bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the APEC Summit.
The Philippine President had first hinted at the China bilateral meeting in a chance interview with reporters on board the presidential plane en route to Phnom Penh. Speaking about the dispute in the West Philippine Sea, Marcos said he was keen on bringing up the matter when he speaks to Xi.
A Department of Foreign Affairs official earlier told media that a bilateral meeting between the Philippines and China was expected before the end of 2022.
In Cambodia, Marcos had chatted informally with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who represented the Asian superpower at the ASEAN Summit.
Philippine-China relations have been through extreme highs and lows. Under the presidency of the late Benigno Aquino III, relations were at their most tense over the West Philippine Sea dispute. It was the Aquino administration that brought China to court over that dispute.
An arbitral tribunal in The Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016, but China rejected the landmark decision.
Under Marcos’ predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines inched closer to China. The former Davao City mayor showed open disdain for the Philippines’ traditional Western allies, especially the US.
Marcos seems to be taking a different path. He has made it clear that he wants to improve Philippine-US relations while also being friendly toward Beijing. Marcos has said that he wants both bilateral and multilateral approaches in handling the territorial dispute with China. – Rappler.com