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China and the Philippines Establish Communications Channel to Address South China Sea Disputes Peacefully

China and the Philippines have established a direct communications channel between their foreign ministries to peacefully address disputes concerning the South China Sea.

Presidents of China and the Philippines
Presidents of China and the Philippines

The announcement comes as the two countries work to improve relations following a 2016 arbitral ruling won by the Philippines that invalidated China's claims to the region.

Countries Agree to Respect Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity

Both nations reaffirmed their commitment to respecting each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity in a joint statement released after a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in Beijing. The Philippines also emphasized its intention to pursue an independent foreign policy and cooperate with China in the interests of regional peace and the two countries national interests.

Plans to Resume Talks on Oil and Gas Exploration in the South China Sea and Explore Cooperation in Other Areas

In addition to establishing the communications channel, China and the Philippines agreed to resume talks on oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea and discuss potential cooperation in fields such as solar, wind, electric vehicles, and nuclear power.

Agreement to Inform Each Other of Rocket Firings and Cooperate on Debris Retrieval

China and the Philippines have agreed to inform each other when firing rockets and cooperate in retrieving rocket debris. This follows an incident in November 2020 where a Chinese coastguard ship prevented a Philippine boat from attempting to tow away debris from a Chinese rocket that had fallen in the South China Sea.

Commitment to Peace, Stability, and Freedom of Navigation and Overflight

Both nations reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability, as well as freedom of navigation and overflight, and agreed to hold an annual dialogue on security issues.

Plans to Increase Bilateral Trade and Boost Tourism

On the economic front, China has agreed to allow more imports from the Philippines to return bilateral trade to or surpass pre-pandemic levels. Both sides also plan to increase the number of tourists and flights between their respective capital cities to pre-pandemic levels. In addition, the two countries will cooperate on vaccine procurement, with China being a major exporter of COVID-19 vaccines.

Renewal of Belt-and-Road Initiative Agreement

China and the Philippines also renewed their agreement on China's Belt-and-Road Initiative, which involves overseas infrastructure investment. As a result of a business meeting between Marcos and Chinese executives, Chinese investors have made investment pledges totaling $22.8 billion, including $13.76 billion for renewable energy, mainly in solar and wind, $7.3 billion for strategic monitoring, including electric vehicles and mineral processing, and $1.7 billion for agribusiness.