Between April 21 and 23, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang will be in the Philippines, where he will meet with Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo to address regional security issues. The visit takes place as tensions over the South China Sea issue and Beijing’s anger with the Philippines’ decision to strengthen its military alliance with the United States continue to rise between the two nations.
The Philippines’ foreign ministry said that Qin’s visit will focus on implementing agreements made during President Ferdinand Marcos’ state visit to China in January, and the outcome of last month’s bilateral talks on the South China Sea. The two officials are also expected to discuss regional security issues of mutual concern.
The Philippines’ alliance with the US has long been a thorn in China’s side, with Beijing viewing the US military presence in the region as a direct threat to its territorial claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines, for its part, has sought to balance its relations with both the US and China, but tensions have flared in recent years over the South China Sea issue.
Several other nations in the region, particularly the Philippines, disagree with China’s claims to practically the entire South China Sea. Additionally, the US has been more involved in the dispute by conducting freedom of passage operations there and aiding its allies militarily.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its own, but its claims are disputed by several other countries in the region, including the Philippines. The US has also been increasingly involved in the dispute, conducting freedom of navigation operations in the area and providing military aid to its allies in the region.
Qin’s visit to the Philippines comes just weeks after a similar visit by his counterpart, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr., to China. Locsin’s visit was seen as an attempt to ease tensions between the two countries and to explore ways to increase economic cooperation.
According to the foreign ministry of the Philippines, Qin’s visit is a significant chance to advance bilateral relations between the two nations and address shared concerns on regional security challenges. On the South China Sea issue, which has been a major source of tension in the region for years, it is unclear whether the two sides will be able to make any significant headway.