MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – China’s top diplomat Wang Yi will be the first foreign minister to meet Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr when he makes an official visit to capital Manila on Wednesday (July 6).
The visit was announced by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian on Facebook, with the Chinese State Councillor’s visit ” fully reflecting how China attaches importance” to the two countries’ bilateral relations.
Mr Wang is scheduled to arrive in Manila on Tuesday night and meet the Philippine officials on Wednesday.
“During the visit, State Councillor Wang Yi will pay courtesy calls on the new leadership and hold talks with new DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) Secretary Enrique Manalo, delving extensively into Philippine-China relations, practical cooperation, and regional and international issues,” Mr Huang said.
The Chinese ambassador likewise also expressed hopes that Mr Wang’s visit will “kickstart China-Philippines relations in the new era”.
“May our ties deepen, especially on the many relevant issues such as Belt and Road Cooperation, the China-Asean Comprehensive Strategic partnership, the Global Development and Security Initiatives, and even our people-to-people exchanges in many fields,” he added.
According to the Philippine DFA, Mr Wang was invited by Mr Manalo, who assumed office on July 1, the same day Mr Marcos Jr was sworn in as president.
Mr Wang last visited the Philippines in January 2021 for an official trip upon the invitation of then Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin.
The two diplomats will engage in a bilateral meeting “where they will discuss a wide range of issues, focusing on maintaining and building on the positive trend of relations between the Philippines and China”, the DFA added.
The scheduled visit of China’s top diplomat to the Philippines comes amid an ongoing maritime dispute between the two countries.
In 2016, Manila won an arbitration award from a United Nations body that invalidated Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippines Sea.
China, however, has repeatedly brushed aside the ruling.
On June 23 this year, during the last days of the Rodrigo Duterte administration, Mr Locsin also announced the termination of oil and gas exploration talks between Manila and Beijing.
China, in response, said it was ready to advance these negotiations under the Marcos Jr administration.