China and the Philippines have reaffirmed their need to properly manage their differences and maintain their strategic autonomy in the first face-to-face talks between their foreign ministries since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two sides discussed various issues of mutual concern, including the situation in the South China Sea, where they have overlapping territorial claims and frequent maritime incidents.
They also agreed to resume negotiations on joint oil and gas exploration in the disputed waters, which were suspended last year due to legal and sovereignty challenges. The talks were held in Manila on March 23 and 24, and were co-chaired by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong and Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro.
The talks followed a state visit by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Beijing in January, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and agreed to deepen cooperation and friendship between the two countries. The two leaders also pledged to reject unilateralism and bullying, uphold peace and stability in the region, and enhance solidarity and coordination among developing countries in Asia.