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Philippine president will bring up the South China Sea issue in Beijing
Philippine president will bring up the South China Sea issue in Beijing

Manila: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will raise the issue of territorial disputes in the South China Sea during his visit to China next week. The Ministry of External Affairs made this announcement on Thursday.

The South China Sea is a strategically important and resource-rich waterway almost entirely claimed by China; However, overlapping claims also exist from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

Since a tribunal in The Hague rejected Beijing's sweeping claims over the waterway in 2016, the Philippines has lodged hundreds of diplomatic protests against China's activity in the area.

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However, Chinese ships continue to be seen in the West Philippine Sea, which the Philippines claims as its own, and new military installations and airstrips have also been built there. From January 3 to 5, Marcos will visit Beijing for the first time.

The President will continue to defend our nation's sovereignty and sovereign rights during his meetings with Chinese leaders, Nathaniel Imperial, Under Secretary of State, told reporters at a news conference at the presidential palace. "The president wants a peaceful and stable situation in the West Philippine Sea," Imperial said.

"The two sides have agreed to sign an agreement to establish communication, direct communication between the foreign ministries of the two countries at various levels to avoid miscalculations and miscommunication in the West Philippine Sea."

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He said China's Foreign Affairs Secretary Wang Yi and Enrique Manalo, who is traveling with Marcos, will sign an agreement to set up the hotline.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Marcos began discussing joint oil and gas exploration on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok in November. According to Imperial, the Philippine President is also expected to continue these discussions.

A positive development in the long conflict is considered to be the proposed hotline on the South China Sea. Bill Heaton, a fellow in the Asia-Pacific program at Chatham House who specializes in the South China Sea conflict, said communication is always beneficial as long as it is meaningful.

The point is that communication is often seen as a one-way street in China. The establishment of the direct line signaled a possible change in Beijing's position, according to Stephen Cutler, a former FBI attaché at the US embassy in Manila and an expert on global security.

"In my opinion, China is acknowledging that they need to reform how they handle relations with other countries. And one way to do that is through the hotline."

The Philippines is taking the relationship forward in a way that I like because, unlike some previous administrations, it seems straight forward and straight forward. They don't bend their knees. They demand to be treated as equals and do not bow down to the Chinese.

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Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos' immediate predecessor, took a pro-Beijing stance in an effort to distance the Philippines from the US, its main defense ally and former colonial master.

Marcos, who was elected president in June, vowed to maintain the cordial relations established by Duterte during his presidential campaign, but not at the cost of sovereignty.

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