To strengthen relations between the two countries beyond the South China Sea territorial conflict, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stated he is open to military cooperation with China.
After years of maritime disputes, Marcos pledged to "find methods to work to overcome the difficulties that we have," with space for relations to grow to new fronts, such as military cooperation. The nation of Southeast Asia should expand its ties with China, which go beyond the disputed sea, said Marcos.
Increasing business links with China while keeping close ties with the U.S., the Philippines' longtime ally and former colonial power, is a difficult balancing act for Marcos.
The newly-elected Philippine president has stated his intention to improve ties with China, but he has also committed to taking a tough stance against any threat that China may pose to Philippine sovereign interests.
On Tuesday, he referred to the necessity of multilateral involvement, particularly the ASEAN bloc's active support of its member nations.
Additionally, he stated that because they are involved in it, leaders in the Asia-Pacific area are "essential participants in regional geopolitics."
Marcos pledged to adopt a bilateral strategy with China during his election campaign, mirroring Beijing's stance on how to handle the South China Sea dispute.
China sent the newly-elected president of the Philippines a four-point proposal to "usher in a new golden period" in bilateral relations.
China's Vice President Wang Qishan praised the Marcos family for their "huge contributions to building the China-Philippines friendship" after attending Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s swearing-in ceremony.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) heard the two nations' dispute over the South China Area in 2016, and Manila won since Beijing's claims to the resource-rich sea were rejected by the tribunal based in The Hague.
Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos Jr.'s predecessor, had said he would "put aside" the international tribunal's decision to improve ties with Beijing.
Wang urged the two nations to "jointly advance peace and development in Asia, as well as the well-being of humanity," calling for respect for international equity and justice.
Marcos informed Wang that "the two peoples are close to one other" and that the bilateral connection between the Philippines and China "has a long history."
The Chinese relationship is extremely important to the current Philippine administration, which is prepared to increase its involvement in the Belt and Road initiative, work with China to address regional concerns, and strengthen bilateral ties.