Manila, Jan 24 (EFE).- Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, has agreed to his proposal for regular meetings between their foreign ministers to resolve any new conflicts in the disputed South China Sea.
In a televised interview broadcast on various channels on Monday night, Marcos said their Bilateral Consultation Mechanism to resolve such disagreements must upgrade from the current mid-level diplomatic level to “a higher level.”
He said he would ask Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo and the Philippine ambassador to China to be part.
“I guarantee you that if there is any decision that needs to be made, either of those gentlemen can pick up the telephone and talk to me and within five minutes we will have a decision.”
He said Xi agreed with the idea during his official visit to China on Jan.4 and asked the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to discuss the new arrangement with Philippine officials.
“I think that if the president, President Xi, puts out an order that ‘we will not do that any more, we will do something else,’ then I think it will be. I think the chain of command is fairly solid,” Marcos said.
“We will be able to report any violation of whatever agreement we come to.”
The remarks come after the Philippine Coast Guard (PGC) said it was investigating an incident involving a Chinese vessel that allegedly shooed away a Filipino fishing boat in Ayungin Shoal earlier this month.
It happened after Marcos and Xi Jinping agreed to prevent such incidents during their meeting in Beijing as the two sides signed an agreement for a joint direct communication mechanism.
“We haven’t come to that compromise yet. And the timing of what we refer to as a shadowing, it is what they do is they shadow our fishing boats. So that incident happened right after I had returned from China,” he said.
He affirmed that China had not complied with the minimum agreement reached with Xi.
In 2017, China and the Philippines launched the so-called bilateral consultation mechanism to hold diplomatic talks on incidents in the disputed waters. But it has not helped reduce tension.
China and the Philippines maintain a conflict over the ownership of several islands and atolls in the Spratly archipelago, also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Beijing says the islands are part of its territory. EFE