PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Friday that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping both agreed that the present challenges in West Philippine Sea should not be the sum of the two countries’ relationship as they met on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) summit.
President Marcos made the remarks when asked by the media during and interview at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco about specific agreements on how to ease the tensions in the South China Sea.
“That’s essentially the message that we spoke of to each other, that we were in agreement that the problems that we have in South China Sea, with China, should not be the defining element of our relationship,” President Marcos said during the interview.
The two had a pull aside meeting at the George Moscone Convention where the APEC summit was held.
“But nonetheless, the problems remain and it is something that we will need to continue to communicate to find ways to avoid such incidents. And of course, as ever, whenever this issue comes up, I always bring up the plight of our fishermen.”
Aside from that he asked that they go back to the situation where both Chinese and Filipino fishermen were fishing together in these waters, a point that he thinks was well taken by Xi.
The President said he requested a meeting with Xi once again to voice to the Chinese leader his concern on some of the incidents that were happening between Chinese and Philippine vessels, culminating in an actual collision.
“And hopefully to find ways to avoid that and have ways to move forward from this situation. Essentially, we tried to come up with mechanisms to lower the tensions in South China Sea,” he noted.
Prior to meeting Xi, Marcos on Wednesday met with US Vice President Kamala Harris, with their talks centering on the situation in the West Philippine Sea and the ways forward to maintain peace.
They also reaffirmed the strength of the Philippine-US alliance, discussed current efforts to deepen security ties and expanded commercial and economic collaboration.