Marcos, China’s Xi to discuss tensions, way forward in South China Sea

November 17, 2023 - 10:11 AM
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Ferdinand Marcos Jr. President of the Philippines speaks at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit in San Francisco, California, U.S., November 15, 2023. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

 Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Friday he will meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the sidelines of the APEC Summit in San Francisco to discuss tensions and formulate ways forward in the South China Sea.

“We will get the view of the Chinese president on what we can do to bring down the temperature, to not escalate the situation in the West Philippine Sea,” Marcos said in a video message.

Manila refers to the part of the South China Sea that it claims as the West Philippine Sea.

“We will put together the ways forward because we are continuously trying to maintain the peace,” Marcos said ahead of a meeting with Xi at the sidelines of the APEC Summit in San Francisco.

Marcos said he also discussed South China Sea issues with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

China’s embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea, pointing to a line on its maps that cuts into the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Taiwan, which China also claims as part of its territory, has said it does not accept Beijing’s maps.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said the line on China’s maps had no legal basis, which Beijing rejects.

The Philippines’ foreign ministry on Thursday committed to continue resupply missions and an “upkeep” of a grounded navy ship in a disputed South China Sea atoll, saying it does not have to give prior notice to China.

The Department of Foreign Affairs also called on China to remove all “illegal structures” it built within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, cease reclamation in those areas and be accountable for the damage the activities caused.

— Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Michael Perry