MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo on Wednesday met Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi for the latter's official state visit in the country.
At the start of their expanded bilateral meeting, Wang stressed the need for the Philippines and China to enhance mutual trust, saying that the “only prospect” for the bilateral relationship is “good neighborlinesses” during complex and unstable times.
Wang said that during the term of former President Rodrigo Duterte, bilateral relations between the 2 countries “overcame all sort of difficulties” with the “correct strategic guidance” from their leaders.
Wang expressed appreciation for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s statements on China, which he described as the Philippines’ “strongest partner."
The Chinese official expressed confidence that this would usher in a “new golden era” for the bilateral relations.
“With President Marcos being elected, China-Philippine relationship has turned a new page. We highly appreciate President Marcos’ recent commitment to pursuing a friendly policy toward China and we speak highly of his latest statements that has sent a very positive signal to the outside world," he said through an interpreter.
“So we are ready to work toward that same direction with the Philippines and to plan for our cooperation going forward in all areas of our comprehensive strategic partnership and I am confident that with our 2 sides working together we can surely open up new golden era for the bilateral relationship," he added.
For his part, Manalo said China "has been a good friend and close partner" of the Philippines in its efforts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have stood shoulder to shoulder in times of great difficulty, helping one another so that we may both bring progress to our people and nations,” he said.
At the DFA office, Manalo and Wang led the launching ceremony of the Samal Island-Davao City Connector Project and witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on providing financial services to promote cooperation between the Philippine and Chinese stock exchanges.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo unveil a scale model of the Samal Island-Davao City Connector Project. Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding. Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. will meet Wang later in the day.
On Tuesday, Marcos said that aside from the West Philippine Sea dispute, he and Wang would discuss cultural and educational exchanges, which could help enhance the country's relations with Beijing.
China claims in near entirety the resource-rich South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea.
Despite a 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating China's historical claims to the area, Beijing has continued to disregard it and instead ramped up its military presence there.
— With reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News