The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said last Friday, November 18 that the Manila government and Beijing have decided to “support the early conclusion” of talks about the creation of a code of conduct in the South China Sea (SCS).
In a statement, the DFA said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and President Xi Jinping reportedly affirmed that the sea code would “help manage differences and regional tensions” in the disputed waters. “The two leaders agreed that maritime issues do not define the totality of Philippines-China relations,” the statement read.
The DFA said that Marcos told Xi: “Our foreign policy refuses to fall into the trap of a Cold War mindset. Ours is an independent foreign policy guided by our national interest and commitment to peace”
Earlier, The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Xi told Marcos that he wants to “write a new chapter in the China-Philippines friendship”.
In 2002, members of ASEAN and China signed a declaration to create a sea code but the actual code has yet to be finalized after 2 decades. One of the causes of the decades-long delay in sea conduct was whether or not the code should be legally binding, and if non-parties should also be subject to it.
Meanwhile, the China government reportedly donated 20,000 tons of urea fertilizers, a commodity that Marcos has been asking for from several countries earlier this year.
“President Xi said that China was open to increasing the importation of quality agricultural produce from the Philippines, highlighting the planned entry of durian from the Philippines to the Chinese market,” the DFA said.
The bilateral meeting between Marcos and Xi had been arranged 2 months before Marcos flew to China for a state visit. It also happened days before United States Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to the Philippines to check the situation in the West Philippine Sea, where China has militarized several shoals and reefs that fall within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.