Taiwan is constantly under threat of invasion from China, which claims the self-ruled democracy as part of its territory. Philippine foreign secretary Enrique Manalo expressed concern to Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang over escalating tensions around Taiwan. They met to deepen economic ties while managing their dispute in the South China Sea. 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 neighbours across the sea”. He said that a healthy and stable China-Philippines relationship is in line with the common aspirations of regional countries. 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 sought to downplay the tensions and described the meeting as “very useful” and “very productive”. 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. Other regional issues were also on the agenda of Saturday’s talks.