Expect more high-level talks and “friendly exchanges” between the Philippines and China in the next two years, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
In a statement, the DFA over the weekend expressed confidence more meetings between Manila and Beijing would follow the just-concluded 17th Philippines-China Foreign Ministry Consultations (FMC) in Beijing.
“The 17th FMC kicked off a series of high-level visits and meetings between the two governments and numerous cultural and people-to-people endeavors during the Philippines-China Years of Friendly Exchanges in 2012 and 2013,” said the foreign office.
The DFA noted that “the two sides had friendly and constructive talks and affirmed the commitment of the two governments to promote the comprehensive development of bilateral relations, such as in the areas of energy, science and technology, disaster mitigation, law enforcement, and maritime cooperation, among others.”
Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio and Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin headed the Philippine and Chinese panels, respectively, at the 17th FMC.
According to Basilio, the discussions “sought to advance the consensus reached by the two sides at the highest levels during President Aquino’s state visit to China last year.”
During her trip to the Chinese capital, Basilio also met with Zhang Zhijun, executive vice minister of the Chinese foreign ministry.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, had earlier agreed to “maintain close political cooperation, including high-level visits and defense and security cooperation.”
Del Rosario flew to China in mid-2011 on Yang’s invitation amid rising tension over the two countries’ conflicting claims in the potentially resource-rich Spratly group of islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said both officials “exchanged views on the maritime disputes and agreed not to let them affect the broader picture of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.”
Xinhua, Beijing’s official news agency, quoted Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping as describing the meeting as “productive,” adding that Beijing was “committed to remaining a good neighbor, a good friend and a good partner of the Philippines.”