Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos said on Wednesday that the South China Sea issue is not the mainstream of Philippines-China relations and should not limit and hamper bilateral cooperation.
He made the remarks when meeting State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who arrived in the country on Tuesday for an official visit.
The Philippines would like to have candid exchanges with China on the South China Sea issue and to find a friendly solution, Marcos said, adding that this is the correct way for the two countries to get along.
He went on to say that China is not only a neighbor of the Philippines, but also a partner and friend, while stressing the friendship between the two countries could only and must be further strengthened.
Noting the country pursues the diplomatic philosophies of peace and independence, Marcos said that the Philippines always stays committed to the one-China principle.
For his part, Wang stressed cooperation between China and the Philippines far transcends maritime disputes as the friendship between the two sides has lasted for thousands of years.
The two countries could neither allow specific differences to define their bilateral ties, nor let certain disputes disrupt their cooperation, Wang said.
Beijing and Manila should strengthen dialogue and communication and properly handle sensitive issues to make maritime cooperation the main tone for both sides when discussing and managing maritime affairs, he added.
As China-Philippines relations are at a new starting point, Wang said Beijing is willing to work with Manila to adhere to friendship and cooperation, as well as to upgrade cooperation to usher in a new “golden era” for bilateral ties.
Wang pledged that China stands ready to carry out cooperation with the Philippines in four key areas, including agriculture, infrastructure, energy, and people-to-people exchanges, to help the country accelerate development and revitalization, and deliver more benefits for its people.
On the same day, Wang also met Philippines Vice-President Sara Duterte-Carpio, Security Adviser Clarita Carlos, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.
After their talks, the two foreign ministers attended a signing ceremony of cooperation documents. Wang was the first foreign counterpart received by Manalo after assuming office on July 1.
Marcos was sworn in as the 17th president of the Philippines last week at the National Museum in Manila. The Chinese Embassy in Manila said Wang’s official visit, six days after the president assumed office, fully reflects “how China attaches importance to our countries’ bilateral relations.”