MANILA, Philippines – Foreign ministry officials from the Philippines and China are set to meet in Manila on October 19, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Tuesday.
The DFA said the meeting, formally called the 18th Foreign Ministry Consultations (FMC), aims to "review existing cooperation and chart future direction of Philippines-China diplomatic relations."
The Philippine panel will be headed by DFA Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda F. Basilio while Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying will head the Chinese side.
DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario is also scheduled to have a separate meeting with the Chinese delegation.
The last high-level talks between the two countries, which are currently embroiled in a territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, occurred between Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping last September in Nanning City.
Prior to the Roxas-Xi meeting, it was revealed that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV had conducted back-channel talks with Chinese officials.
The revelation triggered a war of words between Trillanes and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who described the former military man's act as inappropriate.
The DFA said the last FMC was held in Beijing last January, four months before the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) incident broke.
China claims it has "indisputable sovereignity" over the entire South China, whose parts are also being claimed by some Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam.
The DFA said the FMC is a regular bilateral mechanism meant to be a venue for the two countries to discuss bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual concern, as well as to explore and deepen areas of cooperation in various fields, such as trade and investment, tourism, culture and education, defense and security, agriculture and fisheries, transportation and communication, and consular matters.