Marcos plays balancing act in meeting with Wang

New President Ferdinand Marcos Jr will meet China’s top diplomat to discuss long-simmering disputes in the South China Sea, as he wades into foreign policy dilemmas.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, wearing a native Filipino formal shirt, met his counterpart for talks at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila. He is scheduled to meet Marcos Jr later at the presidential palace and extend Chinese President Xi Jinping’s invitation for him to visit Beijing, a Philippine official said.

Wang arrived in Manila Tuesday night as part of a South-East Asian swing that brought him earlier to Myanmar and Thailand. He will also visit Malaysia and Indonesia, where he will attend a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers in Bali.

Wang’s visit ushers Marcos Jr early to touchy foreign diplomacy issues that often had prompted his predecessors to carry out delicate balancing acts. Marcos Jr was sworn into office last week after a landslide electoral victory in May.

He said in a televised news conference Tuesday that he would discuss with Wang possible ways to resolve Manila’s disputes with Beijing in the contested South China Sea but would also propose to broaden ties further.

“China and the Philippines should not only be discussing the West Philippine Sea,” Marcos said, using the Philippine name for the disputed waters. “Let’s do other things too. In that way, it will normalise our relationship.

“We have many proposals to them in the sense that, as I said, we would like for us to increase the scope,” he said, and mentioned possible expansion of cultural, educational and military exchanges. — AP

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