China, Philippines vow to boost ties, affirm territorial integrity
Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Chinese President Xi Jinping reaffirm their countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In a joint statement issued on Thursday, China and the Philippines claimed they had agreed to establish a direct communications channel between their foreign ministries on the South China Sea in order to resolve conflicts peacefully.
The joint statement, which included 14 agreements aimed at reducing security tensions and increasing economic cooperation, comes as both sides work to repair a relationship strained due to rising tensions in the South China Sea.
Both presidents reaffirmed their countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity in a joint statement published after Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday.
Both parties also agreed to start discussions on oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea, as well as collaboration in fields such as solar, wind, electric cars, and nuclear power.
It is worth noting that “coastguards from China and the Philippines would also meet as soon as possible" to tackle "pragmatic cooperation".
The statement also pointed out that both countries would consider informing each other before shooting rockets and cooperating in the retrieval of rocket debris.
According to the statement, both countries emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability, as well as freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, and will hold an annual security dialogue.
On the economic front, China vowed to allow more Philippines imports, with the goal of restoring or exceeding pre-pandemic levels of bilateral trade.
Both parties also promised to increase tourist traffic and flights between the two capitals to pre-pandemic levels.
The joint statement also stated that both parties will work together to purchase vaccines. China is a major exporter of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
Marcos' three-day visit to Beijing comes as China reopens its borders after a self-imposed closure since the pandemic began in 2020.
Both parties also agreed to extend their commitment to the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi's centerpiece project for international infrastructure investment.
Following a business meeting with Marcos, Chinese investors pledged $22.8 billion in investment, the Philippines' Press Secretary stated in a statement.
Furthermore, $13.76 billion has been pledged for renewable energy, including solar and wind, $7.3 billion for strategic monitoring, not to mention electric vehicles and mineral processing.
"I assure you that our government is committed to supporting your business activities in the country," Marcos told Chinese business executives prior to his return to Manila.
This is happening at a time when the US is exerting strained efforts to incite conflict in the resource-rich South China Sea region, most notably between China and the Philippines, and is eager to undermine the region's rules-based order, which includes erecting artificial barriers to maritime peacebuilding between Beijing and Manila. Meanwhile, China is responding to US’ escalating strategy by moving closer to its geopolitical neighbors.