Diplomats from the Philippines and China are scheduled to hold a series of consultation meetings in Manila this week to discuss various concerns, including the disputed waters in the South China Sea, amid Chinese incursions in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said the dialogues will take place during the 23rd Philippines-China Foreign Ministry Consultations (FMC) on March 23 and the 7th Bilateral Consultations Mechanism (BCM) on the South China Sea on March 24.
The last FMC was held in 2019 while the last BCM happened in 2021.
The DFA said the discussions will cover an array of issues, including economic, people-to-people, maritime, security, and regional matters.
The FMC will focus on a more general approach as it “reviews the overall relations and all aspects” of Philippine-China cooperation.
On the other hand, the BCM will allow both parties, to cover “maritime issues of concern to either side, including developments in the West Philippine Sea, and areas of possible maritime cooperation and confidence-building,” the DFA said.
The department said the upcoming meetings were part of the outcome of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s trip to China in January.
“As reflected in the joint statement of the state visit, the two leaders concurred that confidence-building measures such as the FMC and BCM would contribute to improving mutual trust and confidence,” the DFA said.
“They also affirmed the importance of both mechanisms as venues for the Philippines and China to foster cooperation and greater understanding as well as ease tensions,” the department added.
Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs Ma. Theresa Lazaro of the DFA will lead the Philippine delegation.
Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs will lead the Chinese side.
Sun is scheduled to pay a courtesy call to Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo during his visit to Manila. — Rey E. Requejo
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