Agree to ‘friendly consultations’ on maritime issues, energy exploration
Beijing—The Philippines and China on Wednesday vowed to resolve maritime disagreements through consultation during the second day of the state visit of President Ferdinand Marcos amid heightened tensions over the disputed South China Sea.
Mr. Marcos and Chinese President Xi Jinping both called for “friendly consultation to appropriately resolve maritime issues and restart negotiations on oil and gas exploration,” during their bilateral meeting yesterday, China’s state-owned broadcaster CCTV said.
Xi told Mr. Marcos that China wished to “contribute more positive energy to regional peace and stability” and “promote cooperation on oil and gas development in non-disputed areas,” according to CCTV.
In response, Mr. Marcos said the continuing negotiation for the joint oil exploration is very important to the Philippines.
“I really hope—I would very much like, as you have suggested, Mr. President, to be able to announce that we are continuing negotiations and that we hope that these negotiations will bear fruit because the pressure upon not only China, not only the Philippines but the rest of the world to move away from the traditional fronts of power,” President Marcos said.
In a message after his meeting with Xi, Mr. Marcos said they discussed “what we can forward to avoid any possible mistakes, misunderstandings that could trigger a bigger problem than what we already have.”
“I was very clear in trying to talk about the plight of our fishermen, and President Xi promised that we would find a compromise and find a solution that will be beneficial so that our fishermen might be able to fish it again in their natural fishing grounds,” Mr. Marcos said.
Xi described Mr. Marcos’ state visit as “a trip to honor history… (and) to open up the future.”
“Together, let’s deepen cooperation and draw out a blueprint with China-Philippines cooperation in the new era. This way, we will bring more benefits to our people and contribute to peace and stability in the region,” the Chinese leader said.
The two sides also discussed working together in fields including agriculture and medicine, CCTV reported, and signed a host of agreements for cooperation in infrastructure, fisheries, tourism and other areas.
In his meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang earlier in the day, Mr. Marcos raised the importance of having a strong partnership with China.
“It is very important that these partnerships continue to be strong, continue to be encouraged. And I think that will be the way forward to the mutual benefit of our countries,” Mr. Marcos told Li.
“The opportunities that are available to China and the Philippines to further their relationship are great although there are some difficulties that they have to deal with,” the Philippine leader added.
China has been the Philippines’ major trading partner, posting a total trade of $29.1 billion as of January to September 2022, with exports amounting to $8.1 billion and imports at $21 billion.
Last year, the Philippines’ top exports to China included digital monolithic integrated circuits, semiconductor devices, nickel ore and concentrates, cathodes and sections of cathodes, refined copper and storage units.
In a separate meeting with Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Mr. Marcos underscored that “disagreements” should not define bilateral relations between ths Philippines and China.
“And I believe that although there may be some difficulties and there may be some disagreements as what happened between all… I believe that … we must not allow that [to be] the sum of our relationship,” the President said.
“It is part of our relationship. It is something that we must attend to. It is something that we should discuss as friends and try to resolve in the most peaceful [way],” he added.
House Speaker Martin Romualdez, for his part, said the high-level meeting with Li Zhanshu, “was a very positive engagement,” which he hoped would result in more engagements and exchanges between the legislative bodies of China and the Philippines.
“He (Li) feels and believes that our relationship should be deepened and strengthened through our legislative bodies, acting in coordination and having more engagements and meetings. So, that’s why we will look forward to the invitations that have actually been extended in the previous years but due to COVID, it did not materialize,” Romualdez said.
“But now that China is opening up this year, we look forward to seeing these some engagements and these exchanges between the Congress of China, and the Congress and Senate of the Philippines come to fruition in the year 2023,” he added.
Aside from Speaker Romualdez, former President and now Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo joined the presidential delegation, along with some 40 businessmen representing companies in mining, energy, agriculture and waste management sectors, among others.
A memorandum of understanding was signed yesterday with Bank of China for financial support to facilitate investments in China and the Philippines.
Philippine Trade undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo and Bank of China Manila Branch head Hu Xinquan signed the agreement during the sidelines of the state visit.
Mr. Marcos, who is set to arrive in Manila tonight (Thursday evening), also witnessed the signing of 14 bilateral agreements with China during his three-day state visit.
The Philippines and China signed a joint action plan for 2023-2025 on agricultural and fisheries cooperation between the Department of Agriculture and China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, as well as a memorandum of understanding on cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Both sides also agreed on the handover certificate of the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology-Technological Cooperation Phase III (PHILSCAT-TCP III).
The two countries also inked an MOU between the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China and the Philippines’ Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on digital and information and communications technology cooperation.
An agreement was also forged on a protocol for “phytosanitary requirements” for the export of fresh durians from the Philippines to China between the DA and China’s General Administration of Customs.
Also signed was the the handover certificate of two China-aid bridge projects in Manila — the Binondo-Intramuros bridge and the Estrella-Pantaleon bridge.
Both countries also agreed on a framework agreement for the Renminbi (RMB) portion of the loan financing for three priority projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways and further sealed four loan agreements for the mixed-credit financing (USD and RMB) of three priority bridge projects under the public works department. With Othel Campos, Maricel Cruz and AFP
The Philippine and Chinese governments also agreed on the implementation of the MOU on tourism between the Philippines’ Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China.
Both countries also sealed an MOU between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Ministry of Commerce of China on electronic commerce cooperation; an MOU between the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and China’s International Development Cooperation Agency on the Development Cooperation Plan 2023-2025; and an agreement on economic and technical cooperation between China and the Philippines.
The list also includes a mutual recognition agreement between the General Administration of Customs of China and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) of the Philippines on authorized economic operator program, and an arrangement for the establishment of a communication mechanism on maritime issues between the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Philippines and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.