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China ready for 'golden era' with the Philippines under Marcos Jnr

·3 min read

China is ready to usher in a "new golden era" in ties with the Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

The election of Marcos Jnr had "turned a new page" in the bilateral relationship after six years of positive development, Wang told Philippine national security adviser Clarita Carlos during a meeting in Manila on Wednesday.

"My visit is intended to reflect the importance China attaches to China-Philippines relations and its support for the new Philippine government, as well as the continuity and stability of China's friendly policy towards the Philippines," Wang said.

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The Chinese minister's two-day visit to the Philippines was part of a five-nation Southeast Asian trip that earlier took him to Myanmar and Thailand.

Wang's visit came less than a week after Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan attended the inauguration of Marcos Jnr, and held meetings with him as well as outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter Sara, the new vice-president of the Philippines.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also sent multiple congratulatory messages and held a phone call with Marcos Jnr following his election victory in May.

Beijing has repeatedly expressed its hopes of deeper and stronger ties with the Philippines, a major rival claimant in the South China Sea and a long-time US ally. Many analysts also expect Marcos Jnr to favour Beijing over Washington.

Disputes over the South China Sea have been a source of diplomatic tension between the two neighbours. China claims historical sovereignty over most of the resource-rich waterway, but at least five nations, including the Philippines, dispute those claims. In 2016, Manila won a Hague-based tribunal ruling in its favour but Beijing does not recognise it.

During their meeting, Wang and Carlos agreed to "not let the dispute define bilateral relations, and not let specific differences hinder cooperation between the two countries", according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.

Carlos said the Philippines was willing to expand exchanges and cooperation with China, properly handle differences and promote mutual trust so as to accumulate goodwill and consolidate the friendship, the statement read.

Wang pledged that China would never "follow the old path of colonisation and plunder by the old major powers", but adhere to peaceful development, cooperation, and sharing development opportunities with its neighbours.

"China and the Philippines are neighbours who cannot move away. Our only choice is to be friendly, friendly, and more friendly," Wang said.

"In the face of the current international and regional situation, which is full of uncertainty and instability, the two sides should carry on the tradition of friendship and make China-Philippines relations more solid and resilient."

Increasing geopolitical rivalry between the US and China has left regional nations facing a tricky balancing act.

Wang's tour of Southeast Asia comes as the US seeks to boost its influence in the region through its Indo-Pacific strategy. During his visits to Myanmar and Thailand, Wang met local leaders as well as counterparts from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam when he chaired the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation foreign ministers' meeting in the Myanmese city of Bagan on July 4.

He is due to visit Indonesia next, where he is expected to hold talks with US counterpart Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a Group of 20 foreign ministers' summit in Bali.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.