Philippines-China relations

Marcos’ China trip to yield deal vs ‘miscalculation’ in West Philippine Sea 

Bea Cupin

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Marcos’ China trip to yield deal vs ‘miscalculation’ in West Philippine Sea 

NEW FRIENDS. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. meets Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand on November 17.

Office of the Press Secretary

The agreement aims at 'establishing direct communication' between the Philippine and Chinese foreign ministries to avoid mishaps in the West Philippine Sea

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China will yield a deal beefing up “direct communication” to avoid mishaps in the West Philippine Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday, December 29.

The bilateral agreement – to be signed by Philippine Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi – aims at “establishing direct communication between the foreign ministry of both country at various levels.”

DFA Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Imperial, who handles Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the deal was made “to avoid miscalculation and miscommunication in the West Philippine Sea,” the part of the South China Sea that belongs to the Philippines but is claimed by China.

Marcos will conduct a state visit to China – his first state visit outside of Southeast Asia – from January 3 to 5, 2023. His visit comes as the Asian superpower deals with a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Joining Marcos in China is Manalo, as well as other Cabinet chiefs who will be signing deals with the Chinese counterpart. Manalo will be signing the communications deal between the Philippines and China’s foreign ministries.

Imperial said Marcos would bring up West Philippine Sea issues, but declined to speculate if the Filipino head of state would specifically bring up China’s construction activities in the area.

“In this meetings with Chinese leaders, the president will discuss the full range of our bilateral relations, both the positive aspects and the sensitive aspects of our relations, which includes the issues of the WPS and China’s activities in the areas,” said Imperial in a briefing with media on Thursday.

It will be a very quick visit for the jet-setting Marcos, who has visited six countries in his first six months in office. He will arrive in China late January 3 and will leave by January 5. The Philippine delegation will be under a “bubble arrangement” in a bid to minimize potential exposure to the coronavirus.

This would be Marcos’ second meeting with his Chinese counterpart in three months. He first met President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.

Marcos will be joined the several Cabinet officials as well as top officials from Congress – his cousin Speaker Martin Romualdez and former president and House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is known to have close ties with China. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.