On 14 July, State Councillor & Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. via video link. Foreign Minister Wang noted that as close neighbours facing each other across the sea, China and the Philippines, and the two peoples, enjoy millennium-old ties.

After taking Office, President Rodrigo Duterte made an important political decision to reverse the confrontational policy pursued in previous years, and reached important consensus with the Chinese leader on putting aside maritime disputes, managing the situation through bilateral consultations and enhancing dialogue and cooperation.

China-Philippine Relations have since been turned around and stayed on an upward trajectory, with cooperation rapidly unfolding in various fields.

Wang underscored the importance to cherish this hard-won amicable atmosphere, consolidate the political foundation underpinning the improvement of bilateral relations, and preserve the major gains in Cooperation.

Highlighting the new important consensus on furthering bilateral ties reached between President Xi Jinping & President Duterte during their recent phone call, Wang urged earnest efforts from both sides to fully implement the leaders consensus, enhance mutual trust, remove distractions, and work for new progress in China-Philippine Relations.

Wang commended the solidarity and brotherly bond between the Chinese and Philippine people, who have stood with and assisted each other in the fight against COVID-19. China will continue to share experience with the Philippines, provide support where it can, and enhance vaccine cooperation.

The two sides need to step up efforts for a fast lane for travels and green corridor for logistics to facilitate economic reopening and keep industrial and supply chains stable. China stands ready to continue to synergize the Belt & Road Initiative and the Philippine’s “Build, Build, Build” program, and accelerate the implementation of cooperation projects.

Wang expounded China’s principled position on the South China Sea. He pointed out that thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea has been stable on the whole.

However, driven by its geopolitical agenda, the United States does not want to see peace in the South China Sea, and has been stoking instability by sending the most advanced vessels and aircraft to flex muscles and scaling up militarisation in the region.

Such dangerous moves deserve high alert from regional countries. With its latest “statement”, the US openly reneged on its commitment of not taking sides on disputes over the South China Sea.

It attempted to drive a wedge between China and ASEAN countries and stoke tensions and confrontation to destabilise the region. Such backtracking will only undermine its own reputation.

Wang reaffirmed China’s commitment to working with the Philippines and other regional countries to resolve maritime issues through dialogue and consultation, and reach a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea at an early date while earnestly observing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, as part of the joint effort to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Foreign Minister Wang stressed to Secretary Locsin that with regard to handling maritime issues, both countries should look forward and not move backward.

Locsin extended sympathy to the Chinese people suffering from the flooding and affirmed his confidence that the great country of China will ably handle the challenges it faces as it did in the past.

While offering its congratulations on the 45th anniversary of China-Philippine diplomatic relations, the Philippine side is ready to deepen friendship and solidarity with China and move forward mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas.

The Philippine side commended China’s remarkable progress in defeating COVID-19 and its important role in the global response. It thanked China for sending medical team and medical supplies to the Philippines, and hoped to collaborate with China on vaccine and to make proper arrangements for a bilateral fast lane as early as possible. The Philippines could not abide the ganging up on China by some countries on the COVID issue as it is unfair and unproductive.

The Philippine side supports continued, uninterrupted advancement of Belt and Road cooperation. It is of the view that maritime disputes do not represent the whole of bilateral relations, and should not and will not derail China-Philippines Friendship.

The Philippines will stay committed to resolving the disputes through friendly bilateral consultations, advancing maritime cooperation, and jointly upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea.