PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday and raised his concerns about the brewing tension in the West Philippine Sea that resulted in the actual collision between a Chinese Coast Guard vessel and Philippine civilian boat last month.
Marcos Jr. also met separately with Peruvian President Dina Boluarte and had a brief talk with Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau during the Apec reception, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said.
Marcos Jr. said he requested for a bilateral meeting with Xi to voice again his “concern” about the continued harassment of Chinese vessels to Philippine Coast Guard and boats providing supplies to Philippine soldiers in Ayungin Shoal and intimidation at the Scarborough Shoal.
“I simply voiced to him my concern of the some incidents happening between Chinese vessels and Philippine vessels culminating in an actual collision,” President Marcos Jr. said in a briefing with reporters at the Ritz-Carlon San Francisco.
The Marcos-Xi pull aside meeting was held at the margins of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit at George Moscone Convention in San Francisco Friday night (Saturday Philippine time).
The Philippine president said both leaders are “trying to find ways to avoid” similar maritime incidents in the future.
“Essentially, we tried to come up with mechanisms to lower the tension,” Marcos Jr. added.
Marcos Jr. reiterated what he and President Xi had agreed during his state visit to Beijing in January 2023 that the South China Sea dispute “should not be the defining element in our relationship.”
“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,” he said.
President Marcos Jr. also asked Xi if they could “go back to the situation where both Chinese and Filipino fishermen were fishing together in these waters.”
He said he thinks the point was “well taken” by President Xi.
Other bilateral meetings
The Marcos-Xi bilateral meeting came a few days after US President Joe Biden met the Chinese leader in San Francisco.
Marcos Jr. was not able to meet Biden but instead was met separately by US Vice President Kamala Harris. During his meeting with the US vice president, they also discussed about the situation in the West Philippine Sea.
Also at the sidelines of the Apec Summit, Marcos Jr. and Peruvian President Boluarte met. He said the Peruvian President invited him to go to Peru for a state visit.
“We look forward to fostering stronger ties in agriculture, tourism, and collaboration in manufacturing and infrastructure,” Marcos posted in his Instagram account.
The two countries are celebrating their 50 years of bilateral relationship.
Meanwhile, during the reception of the Apec economic leaders, President Marcos spoke briefly with Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau.
Image credits: @bongbongmarcos