President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday in a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Thailand, as he revealed their talk focused on his state visit to the communist nation in January next year.
Accompanied by his predecessor and now Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Mr. Marcos said the meeting with Xi was “really just the kind of getting-to-know-you” between himself and China’s leader, who made his country’s presence felt in the meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation member nations.
“It’s the first time that I met President Xi Jinping and I was very happy that we were able to have this opportunity,” Mr. Marcos said in a 90-second video released by the Office of the Press Secretary via Twitter.
The President said he and Xi “spoke a little bit about regional issues” but mostly about the plans that Mr. Marcos has for the state visit “that I will be undertaking to China in the first week of January.”
“The bilateral meeting is really just the kind of getting-to-know-you, and that was the same with our meeting,” he said.
“So whatever details need to be taken up between the Philippines and China will be taken up then. But for now, it was a very pleasant exchange,” Mr. Marcos added.
The President said Xi was also “very surprised to meet his old friend,” former President Arroyo, “who accompanied me, and they had a few minutes of recollecting the meetings that they have had, which I think helped the tone of the meeting.”
“So I’m looking forward to January and the state visit to China,” Mr. Marcos said.
According to Speaker Martin Romualdez, the President earlier received advice from Arroyo on how to approach Xi, who staged his own state visit to Manila in November 2018, the first visit to the Philippines by a Chinese leader in 13 years.
“PGMA is definitely a big asset. Her reputation, her track record needs no introduction to anyone. Her advice, her counsel to President Marcos right now is valuable,” Romualdez said.
As President until 2010, Arroyo forged stronger ties with China, and as Speaker in 2018, she led lawmakers in hosting a meeting with Xi during his state visit.
“GMA” is currently Deputy Speaker, having reclaimed her House seat in Pampanga’s second district.
She accompanied Mr. Marcos to the meeting with Xi along with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, and Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Romualdez said.
Trade, investments, and sovereignty issues were among the topics expected to be discussed in the bilateral meeting between the leaders, the current Speaker added.
“I’m sure that we’ll talk about many issues, of course, this being the APEC, the economic issues will be of course foremost in the minds,” Romualdez told reporters on the sidelines of the APEC Summit.
During the 25th ASEAN-China Summit in Cambodia last week, Mr. Marcos pushed for the approval of a code of conduct that will govern the behavior of claimants to the South China Sea with an eye on reducing the risk of conflict over the strategic waterway.
China continues to ignore the 2016 Hague-based tribunal ruling that favored the Philippines and invalidated the former’s virtual claim over all the South China Sea.
Earlier, Malacañang announced that Marcos will be conducting a state visit to China from “January 3 to 5 or 6” upon Xi’s invitation.