SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - In a significant diplomatic engagement, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed approaches to ease tensions in the South China Sea, focusing particularly on fishing rights. The discussion took place during a pull-aside meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit amid recent incidents involving vessels from the Philippines and China.
According to Philippines News Agency, the meeting with President Xi was an opportunity to express concerns over recent maritime incidents, including a collision in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) involving a Chinese Coast Guard vessel and a Philippine supply boat. This incident occurred on October 22, while the Philippine vessel was on a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. President Marcos expressed optimism about finding ways to prevent similar incidents in the future and to progress beyond the current situation.
The leaders discussed the development of mechanisms to lower tensions in the South China Sea, with a specific emphasis on the situation of fishermen in the contested waters. President Marcos highlighted the historical context where Chinese and Filipino fishermen jointly operated in these waters, a situation he hopes can be reestablished. President Xi reportedly received this point positively.
President Marcos described the ongoing dialogue as a 'work in progress', emphasizing the need for continuous communication and sincerity in the shared desire for peace. He stressed that the challenges in the South China Sea should not solely define the relationship between the Philippines and China.
The importance of maintaining peace in the West Philippine Sea was also a subject of discussion between President Marcos and United States Vice President Kamala Harris. In their meeting, President Marcos mentioned his administration's intent to assess the Philippines' role in the region.
These meetings reflect a commitment to addressing the complexities of the South China Sea issue through diplomatic dialogue and cooperation, focusing on peaceful coexistence and mutual benefit for the involved nations.