Philippines’ Marcos to Raise Sea Dispute During China Visit

American Age Official

(Bloomberg) — Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will raise the territorial dispute in the South China Sea and pursue energy cooperation when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Beijing next week.

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A deal is expected to be signed during Marcos’s trip on Jan. 3 to Jan. 5 establishing a direct line between China and the Philippines’ foreign ministries “to avoid miscalculation and miscommunication” in the disputed sea, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Imperial said at a televised briefing on Thursday.

“We do not wish to preempt or second guess what the president will say, but the president will raise important issues affecting our bilateral relations” including the South China Sea, Imperial said.

“The president has said the maritime issues don’t define the totality of our relationship with China, but he acknowledges the importance of this issue,” he said. Other areas where agreements may also be forged include agriculture, trade, and renewable energy, he added.

Marcos’s visit to China comes more than three months after his trip to the US where he met with President Joe Biden and amid renewed tensions in the disputed sea. Last week, the Philippines’ Department of Defense ordered the military to strengthen presence in the South China Sea, after Bloomberg News reported China’s build-up in several unoccupied land features. China’s Foreign Ministry has denied the report.

Why the South China Sea Fuels U.S.-China Tensions: QuickTake

The Philippines’ defense agency earlier this month raised “great concern” on the reported swarming of Chinese vessels in the Iroquois Reef and Sabina Shoal in the South China Sea. The US State Department has said it supports the Southeast Asian nation’s calls to respect international law.

Marcos’s visit is expected to yield 1.5 billion yuan ($215 million) in grants, as well as agreements on tourism and bridge projects, Imperial said.

(Adds quote, details of visit, background.)

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