Manila, Apr. 22 (BNA): The Philippines and China pledged on Saturday to work together to resolve maritime disputes between them in the South China Sea, where there are competing claims between the two countries, and to deepen bilateral relations, Reuters reported.
The talks between the two countries’ foreign ministers are the latest in a series of high-level meetings for the Philippines with leaders of the United States and China as the two superpowers jostle for strategic advantage in the Indo-Pacific region.
Philippine Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo said that Manila’s relations with Beijing are more than just differences between them over the South China Sea, as he started talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Chen Gang in Manila.
“These differences should not prevent us from looking for ways to manage them effectively, especially with regard to the enjoyment of rights by Filipinos, especially fishermen,” Manalo said, adding that waterway accidents and actions undermine their livelihoods.
Since Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr took office in June, the Philippines has lodged dozens of diplomatic protests over the presence of Chinese fishing vessels and what it calls China’s “aggressive actions” in the strategic waterway.
Qin said in his opening speech that the two neighbors need to work together to carry on the tradition of friendship, deepen cooperation and properly resolve differences.
Working together, Chen said, will help promote peace and stability in the region and the world.
His visit comes just weeks after the Philippines announced the location of four additional US military bases, two of which are heading north towards Taiwan.
Chen is scheduled to meet Marcos later on Saturday, ahead of the president’s meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington in May.
More than 17,000 Philippine and US soldiers are holding their largest-ever joint military exercise in the Southeast Asian country, drawing criticism from Beijing, Manila’s rival in the South China Sea.
A landmark ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 invalidated China’s claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, which sees the passage of some $3 trillion in shipborne goods annually and is believed to be rich in minerals and oil. Gas deposits.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines have competing claims to parts of the waterway.