(NewsGlobal.com)- Last week, China and the Philippines announced that the two countries have agreed to set up a direct communications channel between their foreign ministries to handle disputes peacefully.
The agreement, which contains 14 elements aimed at easing security tensions and boosting economic cooperation, comes as Beijing and Manila strive to restore a relationship that was strained after the Philippines won a 2016 arbitral ruling invalidating China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
In a joint statement issued after their meeting in Beijing last Wednesday, Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Xi Jinping reaffirmed that their two nations would respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the other.
Arriving back in Manila, President Marcos said that the Philippines would pursue an independent foreign policy and that his government was willing to cooperate for regional peace and the national interests of both the Philippines and China.
Marcos said he and President Xi agreed that the maritime issues between their two countries “do not comprise the entirety of our relations,” but added that the maritime rivalry remains a “significant concern and priority” both for the Philippines and the region.
Both sides also agreed to resume their talks on oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea as well as discuss cooperation on nuclear, wind, and solar power, as well as electric vehicles.
The Coast Guards from both China and the Philippines will also meet “as soon as possible” to discuss “pragmatic cooperation.”
In their joint statement, the leaders agreed that both countries would consider informing the other when firing rockets and cooperate on the retrieval of rocket debris.
In November, after debris from a Chinese rocket fell in the South China Sea, a Chinese coast guard ship stopped a Philippine boat from towing it away.
The countries also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability, as well as freedom of navigation and overflight, and plan to hold an annual dialogue on security, the joint statement said.
China also agreed to allow more Philippine imports with the aim of returning to or surpassing bilateral trade to pre-pandemic volume. The two sides also promised to boost tourism and flights between Beijing and Manilla to pre-pandemic levels.