Published: 2023-04-23 14:49
Last Updated: 2023-09-30 06:04
The Philippines' top diplomat has expressed his concern to Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang over escalating tensions in waters around Taiwan, Manila said on Saturday.
Philippine foreign secretary Enrique Manalo met Qin as the two countries seek to deepen economic ties while also managing their dispute in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement after the talks.
"Secretary Manalo reaffirmed the Philippines' adherence to the One China Policy, while at the same time expressing concern over the escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait," the DFA said.
China claims Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to bring the island under its control one day, by force if necessary.
Qin described China and the Philippines as "close neighbors across the sea".
"Amid the fluid and turbulent regional situation, a healthy and stable China-Philippines relationship is not only meeting the aspirations of our two peoples, but also in line with the common aspirations of regional countries," Qin said during the talks.
He told a forum in Shanghai on Friday that recent rhetoric accusing China of disrupting peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait could have dangerous consequences.
"Such claims go against basic common sense on international relations and historical justice," he said.
"The logic is absurd and the consequences dangerous."
China staged military exercises around self-ruled Taiwan this month that simulated targeted strikes and a blockade of the island.
This was in response to a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.
China and the Philippines are locked in a bitter maritime dispute in the strategic South China Sea.
President Ferdinand Marcos, after meeting Qin on Saturday, sought to downplay the tensions.
"Some of the pronouncements that have been made recently by our two countries and many other countries might be misinterpreted," Marcos said in a statement.
The Philippine leader described the meeting as "very useful" and "very productive".
"As to the conflicts, we agreed to establish more lines of communication," he added.
Manalo, the Philippine foreign minister, said differences in the South China Sea "are not the sum total" of relations between the two nations, which have agreed to manage disagreements through dialogue and cooperation.
Beijing claims almost the entire waterway and has ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that ruled its claims have no legal basis.
Other regional issues were also on the agenda of Saturday's talks, the DFA said.