MANILA (UPDATED) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. welcomed Chinese state councilor and foreign minister Qin Gang to Malacañang on Saturday, calling the visit “very useful” in “ironing things out” between Manila and Beijing.
“Today it was really useful that we were able to speak with Minister Qin Gang, the Foreign Minister of China, so we can talk directly to one another and iron things out,” Marcos said in a statement.
“It’s very, very useful and very, very productive that Minister Qin came here and that we were able to talk things a little bit through, make plans for the future, continue to work on growing the relationship between the Philippines and China, not only in the economic field but in the cultural and educational and other exchanges,” he said.
Manila and Beijing are still iestablishing “more lines of communications” to address “any event that occurs in the West Philippine Sea that involves China and the Philippines.”
“We are currently working on that and are awaiting the Chinese response and we are confident that these issues would be worked out that would be mutually beneficial for both our nations,” the President said.
Qin’s visit comes days after Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian drew flak from several government officials and groups and pushed for the envoy to return to his home country after he issued a “veiled threat” against overseas Filipino workers in Taiwan.
"The Philippines is advised to unequivocally oppose 'Taiwan independence' rather than stoking the fire by offering the US access to the military bases near the Taiwan Strait if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs," Huang said in a forum last week.
The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines claimed that ambassador was “misquoted,” while Marcos Jr. said the diplomat’s statement may have been “lost in translation.”
The Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit also comes weeks after the Philippines and the United States held its 2+2 Ministerial meeting for the first time in 7 years.
In that meeting held in the US earlier this month, the traditional allies reaffirmed its commitment to its partnership with Washington saying it has “allocated more than $100 million in infrastructure investments at the new and existing EDCA sites.”
The EDCA sites are military camps in the Philippines where US troops are allowed to use under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Of the 4 new EDCA sites identified this year, 3 are strategically close to Taiwan, while the other is situated near the West Philippine Sea.
Qin is the highest Chinese official to visit the Philippines after Marcos Jr.’s state visit to China in January.