PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. would bring up the country’s sea dispute with China in a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to the presidential palace.
“The chief executive said that it’s impossible for him to talk to China without mentioning the West Philippine Sea issue,” it said in a statement on Thursday, referring areas of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
The Philippine president last week said “the West Philippine Sea will be one of the top agenda if he meets with the Chinese president,” the Office of the Press Secretary said.
Mr. Marcos pushed the approval of a code of conduct in the South China Sea during the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China Summit in Cambodia last week.
In 2002, ASEAN and China signed a nonbinding agreement where 11 countries agreed that a South China Sea code of conduct was needed.
The palace earlier said Mr. Marcos had accepted Mr. Xi’s invitation to visit China in January.
His predecessor, Rodrigo R. Duterte, led a foreign policy pivot toward China and away from the US, the Philippines’ oldest security ally.
Mr. Marcos, who took office in June, has vowed to make the Philippines a “friend to all” and “an enemy to none.”
Last month, the US announced $100 million in additional funding for the Philippine military.
At the ASEAN-US Summit, Mr. Marcos recognized the role of a quadrilateral alliance among the US, Australia, India and Japan in keeping regional security.
China, an important Philippine trade partner, has viewed the Quad as a US attempt to counter its influence in the region. Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, has called the US-led informal grouping an “Indo-Pacific NATO.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza