China and the Philippines have reached an important consensus on bilateral ties: the South China Sea issue and regional development cooperation. The agreements were made during the 22nd diplomatic consultation between the two countries, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Friday.
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Spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters that this diplomatic meeting in Manila was the first to take place after the relationship between the two countries was upgraded to 'comprehensive strategic cooperation'.
The two sides agreed to be good neighbors, saying that China-Philippine relations has experienced a turnaround since 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte verbally agreed to allow both nations access to fishing areas in each other’s controlled waters of the South China Sea. Since then, the two sides have cordially handled their differences and expanded cooperation, which has contributed to regional development.
Chinese and Filipino officials say they will continue to cooperate on Belt and Road initiatives.
The two sides agreed to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, and will hold their Fifth Meeting of the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) as soon as possible to jointly produce final maritime agreements regarding the South China Sea amd development in the region. Both countries agreed to adhere to the Code of Conduct (COC) in the waterway.
Xinhua reports that China continues to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and its member states, which includes the Philippines. Chinese representatives say it will continue to work closely with the Philippines as a coordinating country for China-ASEAN relations.
The nations will hold East Asia Cooperation meetings this year to synergize the Belt and Road initiatives with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. All of this means that the Asian nations will promote smart cities and digital economies in the region.