US, China envoys to the Philippines meet

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2022 06:52 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2022 09:25 PM

Photo courtesy of Ambassador MaryKay L. Carlson/Twitter
Photo courtesy of Ambassador MaryKay L. Carlson/Twitter

MANILA (UPDATE)— US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson and Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian met on Friday afternoon.

Carlson tweeted her photo with Huang, saying they discussed their “respective priorities in the Philippines.”

“Appreciated the opportunity to meet with PRC Ambassador Huang Xilian to discuss our respective priorities in the Philippines,” Carlson said.

The US Embassy has yet to provide additional details, including who initiated the meeting.

In a Facebook post, Ambassador Huang said he appreciated Carlson’s call, adding that they had the “opportunity to exchange views” on their respective countries’ relations with the Philippines.

"Appreciated the call by US Ambassador MaryKay Loss Carlson. We had the opportunity to exchange views on our two countries' respective relations with the Philippines," he said.

Responding to reporters’ queries, US Embassy Press Attach√© Kanishka Gangopadhyay said this is the first time that the two ambassadors met individually and is the latest of Carlson’s series of initial courtesy calls that she has had with other ambassadors.

“This is the first time that Ambassador Carlson and Ambassador Xilian have had the chance to meet individually. The meeting was the latest in a series of initial courtesy calls Ambassador Carlson has had with other Ambassadors, as you can see from her Twitter feed,” Gangopadhyay said in a Viber message.

The ambassadors met just weeks after US Vice President Kamala Harris affirmed the United States' commitment to defending the Philippines if its vessels or aircraft are attacked in the South China Sea, where Beijing and Manila have competing claims. 

Washington has a decades-old security alliance with the Philippines that includes a mutual defense treaty and a 2014 pact, known by the acronym EDCA, which allows for the US military to store defense equipment and supplies on 5 Philippine bases.

It also allows US troops to rotate through those military bases. 

EDCA stalled under former president Rodrigo Duterte, but the United States and the Philippines have expressed support for accelerating its implementation as China becomes increasingly assertive.  

Hundreds of Chinese coast guard and maritime militia vessels prowl the South China Sea, swarming reefs, harassing and attacking fishing and other boats, and interfering in oil and gas exploration as well as scientific research.

— With a report from Agence France-Presse