PH, China seen to establish direct line ‘to avoid miscommunication’ on WPS issues
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and China are expected to ink an agreement forging a direct communication line between both nations in a bid “to avoid miscalculation and miscommunication in the West Philippine Sea.”
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Imperial said this in a press briefing at the Malacañang on Thursday, where he fleshed out the details of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s upcoming state visit in China from January 3 to 5, 2023.
“To avoid miscalculation and miscommunication in the West Philippine Sea, both sides have agreed to sign an agreement establishing direct communication between the foreign ministries of both countries at various levels,” he said.
The deal, Imperial said, is expected to be signed by Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and his counterpart, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Asked about Marcos’ intentions of raising the maritime dispute between both nations in his scheduled meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Imperial vaguely said “the President wants a peaceful and stable situation in the West Philippine Sea and will continue to uphold our country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights during his meetings with Chinese leaders.”
“We do not wish to preempt or second guess what the President will say to his counterpart but the President will raise important issues affecting our bilateral relations, among them is the issue on the West Philippine Sea. So we can’t say how specific the discussions will be,” he added.
The DFA official also pointed out that Marcos, in his meetings with Chinese leaders, including Xi, intends to “discuss the full range of our bilateral relations – both the positive aspects of it and the sensitive aspects of our relations, which includes the issue of the West Philippine Sea and China’s activities in the area.”
Imperial then echoed Marcos’ earlier pronouncement, expressing belief that the relationship of China and the Philippines should not be totally defined by the maritime disputes that hound the two nations’ ties.
READ: Bongbong Marcos wants PH-China ties to go beyond West PH Sea disputes
“But nevertheless, he acknowledges the importance of this issue to our interests and to the Filipino people, so we expect that this issue will be discussed in the President’s meetings with Chinese leaders,” he added.
Aside from raising concerns about the West Philippine Sea, Imperial said Marcos and his Philippine delegation is also eyeing possible grants from China and a framework agreement for three priority bridge construction projects.
A slew of investment pledges, a memorandum of understanding on digital cooperation and a sealed deal on tourism cooperation between China and the Philippines are also among the agenda in Marcos’ upcoming state visit.
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